Interviewing the Author is an activity designed for gleaning the original purpose of the author in order to better access a piece of writing. In this exercise, students work in groups of 3-6, with one student acting as the author of the piece and the remaining students taking the role of professional interviewers (for a TV spot, radio talk show, newspaper article, ect.). The goal of the students interviewing the “author” should be to unpack the author’s main purpose, clarify difficult language, and create an interesting dialogue for the audience to listen to and understand. The challenge of this exercise, then, is two-fold: one, for the student to understand the reading enough to “become the author,” and two, for the remaining students to create questions that both effective and entertaining. These questions often look like “What do you mean by that…?” and “Let me see if I get what you’re saying. You’re saying that…” but can be in any form the interviewers choose.
I liked the idea behind Interviewing the Author. The plan of playing the primary source and then seeing the secondary spectators and observers pick the primary views and opinions apart was like seeing the processes behind a research paper come to life — delivery of information and collection of knowledge, then reconstruction rephrasing, and application. But I felt the activity itself lacked a certain amount of application, as it felt frozen and a bit disconnected as each group shared out. Perhaps if we had gone with your first thought ofall being McCormicks, taking five minutes to prepare a question and five more minutes to prepare ourselves to answer, the exercise would have felt more universal, meaning, and lasting. I feel comfortable approaching academic language, as I feel abel to contextualize it to the point of understanding it. This exercise helped me better understand the text, but it did not inspire me to revisit it.