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In the field of composition studies, scholars often explore and debate how educators should train students to use the general forms of academic writing. Of particular interest, a trend has emerged in high schools where students are banned from using the words “I,” “me,” “we,” and “us” to avoid sounding subjective--even though composition studies scholars consistently employ these first-person pronouns for rhetorical effect. In this presentation, I closely examine how scholars use first-person pronouns in award-winning works. In particular, I show how scholars employ “I” and “we” to introduce personal examples, to call readers to action, and to reassert responsibility for their work. Then, I argue that high school teachers must accurately represent these rhetorical techniques, even to younger writers, and I suggest possible lesson plans to help students use their first-person pronouns responsibly.

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English language--Pronoun, Secondary education, Rhetoric, English language--Grammar


Rhetoric | Secondary Education

Action, Experience, and Responsibility: Using I and We in High School Writing