Week One

Reading Notes:

Herndl, Carl. “Introduction to the Special Issue: The Legacy of Critique and the Promise of Practice.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 18.1 (2004): 3-8.

  • This introduction provides a call to action for technical communicators to act upon theoretical practice (5). As agents of change, technical communicators should invest themselves in "Critical Practice" which is a "political project committed to social change" (7).
  • As defined by Herndl, the "theory of critical practice has a unified and consistent definition and purpose" (7). Oppsed to critical theory, the framework of opposition via critique, Critical Practice requires a committment to change.
  • Herndl cites the feminist movement as agents of change because "feminist action-oriented research makes a political commitment to is participants and tries to clarify social relations rather than merely describing them" (6).
  • Herndl says that "practices are cyclic in nature" (5). I believe he means that because critical pracitice enacts change, there tends to be a constant conversation and changes continue to evolve as a result. Change becomes the constant.
  • In short, the article is a call to action for technical communicators to move beyond "talk" and to "take action." I am reminded of the song by Cracker, "Get off This." The lyrics go:
    • "Get off this
    • get on with it
    • if you want to change the world
    • shut your mouth,
    • and start to spin it."

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard, and Kristi Stewart. “Guest Editors’ Column.” Technical Communication Quarterly 12.3 (Summer 2003): 245-49.
  • This special issue attempts to bridge the gap between science and nature writing caused by the Enlightenment (246).
  • Science and Nature writing is a "neglected" area of study; this special issue hopes to open this avenue of scholarship.
  • Science and Nature writing is written for lay audiences (non-scientists) and emerges in reports, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and essays provided to the general public. More recently, this discourse is made avialable via websites, as well.
  • Science writing, itself, tries to explain complicated scientific concepts to the general public. Nature writing is generally "aesthetic or conservation-oriented" (246).
  • This new genre tries to bridge the gap since science writing is moving toward the biological, and nature writing is becoming more informed by technical science (246).
  • The authors assert that "science is the study of nature" and that :nature getslost in the scientific machine" (247).

Scott & Longo. “Guest Editors’ Introduction: Making the Cultural Turn.” Technical Communication Quarterly 15.1 (Winter 2006): 3-8.
  • This introduction highlights the "cultural turn" that "complicates and extends social perspectives" (2). This is not a radical shift, but a an "extension" that is a "provocative, productive theory and practice" (6).
  • This special issue illustrates how "historical and cultural forces (both material and ideological)...shape and are shaped by technical communication" (3).
  • This introduction also serves a call to action to examine technical rhetoric in terms of social change.

Dubinsky, James M. “Guest Editor’s Introduction.” Technical Communication Quarterly 13.3 (Summer 2004): 245-49.
  • There are specific ways educators can help students become actively engaged:
    • They can examine the definition of community;
    • The can carry this message to a broader community;
    • They can implement service learning projects;
    • They can make students "collaborative partners;" and
    • They can foster an environment of activism (245).
  • Technical communicators can have an impact on civic decisions.
  • This vein of study began with collaboration and discussion.

Charney, Davida. “Introduction: The Rhetoric of Popular Science.” Written Communication 21 (2004): 3-5.

  • This is an interesting introduction in that she says that “perhaps it is time to start thinking about popularizing the rhetoric of science” (5).
  • The lines “are blurring” between specialist science and popular science; “Myers, who is cited by several of the authors in the present issue, points out that the line that is traditionally drawn between disciplinary and popular scientific discourse is blurring as more information channels are opening to the public” (3).
  • She calls, indirectly, for open source science; “Journalists, Dean says, can only close the gap between scientists and the public if scientists ‘stop hiding in thickets of irrelevant detail and identify the bottom line,’ acting “as citizens as well as researchers” (4).
  • The rhetoric of specific literature and literature for the general population needs to improve its rhetoric; “She compares the use of figures of speech in the full scientific versions of articles published in the journals Science and Nature, with the summary versions provided in the same issues for nonspecialists. Rather than arguing that the popular versions distort the specialist versions, Fahnestock finds that the use of rhetorical figures can improve both versions” (4).
Relevant materials for further study: Dean, C. (2003, November 11). Rousing science out of the lab and into the limelight. The New York Times, p. D10.

Lecture Notes: