“Other People Already Said That: The Paradox of Close Reading” with Christine Muller


PauklaChristine Muller is a graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Transnational Literatures at the Univiersity of Bremen in Germany.  She examines how she learned to write a close reading, a new genre for her.  Her discussion leads her to consider more broadly the role of research in the writing process and the relationship between the writers and her secondary sources.  Group_project_FINAL 



Edited and produced by Esprit Basner, Magdalena Niedermeyer, Ethan Slusher, and Barrett Ziegler.   

7 thoughts on ““Other People Already Said That: The Paradox of Close Reading” with Christine Muller

  1. Very interesting that there is also a lack of personal opinion included in the essay writing experience in Germany, seeing as the next podcast also references this emphasis on research as the primary means of expression in Peru.

  2. I think it’s really interesting that the culture of a country comes out in the writing process. America is extremely focused on individual values and having independent thoughts, so in our writing we usually incorporate our own analysis. But in other countries where there isn’t such a focus on individuality, they don’t want you to create your own personal thesis. I understand that she speaks about the reasoning behind this being because of plagiarism concerns, but doing all the research first and forming a thesis later would confuse me so much! I feel like I wouldn’t be able to separate my thoughts from the research, which would lead to me unconsciously plagiarizing something anyways.

  3. Listening to this podcasts and the last one, I noticed something that was similar was that they appreciated the idea of peer review. They both thought it was refreshing to get the opinion of someone who was in a similar standing as her and having a resource as the writing center where students can help you be a “better writer” and not “better writing.”

  4. Very interesting that the writing process in Germany is different than the writing process here in America, for example the use of research is the basis of all academic papers. Also interesting that students in Germany only discuss topics with their peers/ professors, not the writing itself.

  5. The differences between the German and American writing processes are very significant. Christine emphasized that the process was consumed primarily by the research of the student, and less of the student’s opinion. Due to this difference, German papers have less of a voice than papers written by American students. Also, she highlights that she felt like she was plagiarizing by not depending on other authors work. This is an interesting problem for writing centers to have; they must fix grammatical errors of non-native English speakers, but they also must teach the process of writing a paper in an American style.

  6. I was very interested in the role of personal opinion and the fear of plagiarism. I can relate wanting to cite secondary sources (too) often. In high school,my curriculum seemed closer to the German style where research comes before personal opinion. In college, I am trying to reverse this habit, relying firstly on my own insight instead of scholarly research as a basis for my argument.

  7. I find it amazing that Germany doesn’t do close reading writing projects in the same way. I’ve always considered American schools to be incredibly stringent with plagiarism, but the fact that German schools actually change the writing process to reflect their views of plagiarism is rather amazing. I think it’s interesting that German papers follow the same process I use for research papers, of looking at research first and then writing the thesis and paper around the research. For my own process, I definitely appreciate the American process of getting feedback and the peer-review culture, since my own process is so dependant on that. Very interesting cultural differences.

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