Notes: Estee Beck, Mariana Grohowski, and Kristine Blair, “Subverting Virtual Hierarchies: A Cyberfeminist Critique of Course-Management Spaces” in James P. Purdy and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss Making Space: Writing Instruction, Infrastructure, Multiliteracies

Beck, Estee, Mariana Grohowski, and Kristine Blair, “Subverting Virtual Hierarchies: A Cyberfeminist Critique of Course-Management Spaces” in James P. Purdy & Dànielle Nicole DeVoss (Eds.) Making Space: Writing Instruction, Infrastructure, and Multiliteracies. UM Press Sweetland, 2016.

Summary:

Estee, Grohowski & Blair offer a cyberfeminist critique of Course-Management Spaces as well as many alternative digital spaces and the ways that these can reinscribe patriarchal authoritative values.

Keywords: Writing Studies, Rhetoric, Composition, Digital Rhetoric, Feminist Rhetorics, Multiliteracies, New Media

Sources:

Arola, Kristin. (2010). The design of Web 2.0: The rise of the template, the fall of design. Computers and Composition, 27(1), 4–14.

Oh, Yeon Ju. (2012). Is your space safe? Cyberfeminist movement for space online at Unnine. In Radhika Gajjala & Yeon Ju Oh (Eds.), Cyberfeminism 2.0 (pp. 245–261). New York: Peter Lang.

Quotations:

“Historically, theoretically, and pedagogically, scholar–teachers have critically questioned the ability of electronic learning environments to foster a safer space for students who are potentially marginalized within the physical confines of the brick and mortar classroom”

“It is important to remember, however, that integrating digital tools does not represent a de facto commitment to empowerment and that any technology use must be aligned with curriculum and pedagogical practices that support such a goal”

“In conclusion, we call for more opportunities for both students and teachers to interrogate the existing spaces they inhabit and collaboratively work to align learning spaces with the curricular and cyberfeminist goals of accessibility and inclusiveness.”

“The potential to silence or marginalize students by acting upon the data may occur because the social and political matrices students bring with them in online spaces are not captured by the algorithms that collect user clicks, downloads, and time spent in a module in the course space”

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander, “Mobilities” in Techne: Queer Meditations on

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Genealogies.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

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Summary:

Rhodes and Alexander discuss techne in terms of an queer embodied self and the rhetorical canons of memory and delivery.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Rhetorics, Multimodality, Technology, New Media, Ecology, Embodiment

Sources:

Brooke, Collin Gifford. Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2009. Print.

McCorkle, Ben. Rhetorical Delivery as Technological Discourse: A Cross-Historical Study. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2012. Print.

Porter, James E. “Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric.” Computers and Composition 26.4 (2009): 207–24. Print.

Quotations:

“Porter’s theoretical framework for digital delivery consists of five components: body/identity, distribution/circulation, access/accessibility, interaction, and economics… Such synergistic tension opens up spaces to act, write, and perform embodied rhetorical action” (mob2).

“[H]e notes that our modern, commonsense understanding of “delivery” sees it as a transitive process, something that always happens with a delivered, discrete object (“delivering a pizza,” for example); he argues that “we need to think in terms of an intransitive, constitutive performance, rather than transitive or transactional delivery, when it comes to new media” (170–71)” (mob3).

“In this chapter, we juxtapose—mash up and remix—delivery and memory with orientation in the service of productive play. Such play lets us develop and explore a critical consciousness that becomes aware of the orientations that shape memory and subjectivity as well as the potentiality to reorient them, even if through disorientation. As a techne, our call for such dis/orientation emerges from and extends a long line of queer aesthetic practice” (mob4a).

“What draws us queerly to such work is its often embodied delivery (and memory), its working through the body—wandering, following instincts, tracing desires, reacting in the flesh, coupling strangely and unexpectedly and even grotesquely—as well as its questioning of normative modes of production (wander!) and its orientation to potentialities as opposed to (heteronormative) reproduction” (mob4a).

“What we have been proposing through this work is a reorientation of memory and delivery that serves as a multimodal techne of self. Such a technerelies on the constant re/negotiation of memory and ecologies of delivery, of allowing for but also stumbling upon embodied encounters with what we think we know and what’s coming at us” (mob5b).

“Graffiti is often itself an act of dis/orientation. Some of it just tags the environment, designed to mark a space as owned in a subterranean geography. But much of it disrupts the nearly seamless flow of corporate colonization of public spaces. We think, for instance, of Banksy or Keith Haring, whose work posed material interruptions of spatial narratives that otherwise kept us moving along—nothing to see here, get back to work, go shopping. “Live Here, Work Here, Play Here.” Graffiti can dis/orient the spatial spectacles of our everyday lives, tactically turning attention to cracks in the narrative, contradictions and incommensurabilities in the paved-over stories we otherwise tell ourselves to get through the day” (mob6).

“Graffiti offers an ephemerality of consequence. It is a public techne of reorientation. It is the trace of others’ engagement with the world, with an attempt to leave a mark, to make an impression, to divert, to disrupt, to affect, to make our collective landscapes affective, to tell another story. It reminds us that someone or some people were here. It is memory and delivery. And, in its often unknown authorship, it performs a rhizomatic scattering of the self, an ecology of subjectivity that narrates otherwise, that draws attention to its difference from everything else around it” (mob6a).

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes & Jonathan Alexander, “Orientations.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Introduction.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

Two dancers in Picasso's costumes: the costumes are an abstract mix of formal wear, pipes, and capital/industrialist landscape.

Summary:

In this chapter, Rhodes and Alexander explore phenomenology’s attentiveness to the subject and subjectivity as sites of inquiry into how technologies (re)orient and (re)mediate the subject.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Rhetorics, Technology, Multimodality, New Media, Phenomenology, Actor-Network Theory (ANT)

Sources:

Dourish, Paul. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2001. Print.

Kaptelinin, Victor, and Bonnie A. Nardi. Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2009. Print.

Law, John. “Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics.” The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory. Ed. Byron S. Turner. Chichester, UK: Blackwell, 2009. 141–58. Print.

Quotations:

“As we touch our technology, we are increasingly reminded of how it touches us back, sometimes through the agency of others reaching out to us” (1).

“We surely want our composing technologies to help us move, to allow us to “follow something other than the lines” already laid down. But to do so, we need to know how those objects already orient us along particular trajectoriesand why” (4).

“The creation of such distance speaks to the fundamental power of the relationship, acknowledging the influence of the object on our subjectivities—in producing our subjectivities—in our felt need at times to curtail it, to introduce and make room for other influences and pressures. Perhaps what needs to be taught now is less the danger of devices than better ways of relating to them. What would studying the experience of working with machines as a set of embodied and situated relations (not just extractable acts, but live relations) tell us about our (post)humanity?” (5).

“In my embodied “coupling” with my technologies, to use Dourish’s term, mean-ing, be-ing, and other Big Concepts are constantly mediated and remediated, a dynamic process in which my technologies and I reach for (and beyond) each other. These acts of (re)mediation are embedded, or grounded quite specifically in the material, social, cultural, and historical settings in which they arise; a key part of that embedding is “a concern with the mundane aspects of social life, the taken-for-granted background of everyday action” (Dourish 96). The idea of “everyday experience” is key here. Dourish’s phenomenological framework takes as its center the purposeful, active subject, mediating his or her experience through technologies. At their simplest level, technologies such as Mood Map, Verbalucce, Lumo Lift, and Pavlok offer us a reductionist stimulus–response view of behavior and cognition. Pushing against that simple view, we can see such technologies (and, importantly, our purposeful use of them) as ecologies of orientation, or complex systems that push us to act in culturally “appropriate” ways. Stand tall. Be positive. Don’t waste time on Facebook. Get up earlier. Be efficient” (6).

“Bodies move to attract and capture attention, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. Such bodies, sometimes encased in rigid costumes representing concrete and steel, have become orienting objects, while also continuing to draw our attention to their difference—from each other and from their interaction with non-bodily objects, specifically the materials of industrial capitalism. Long before Latour,Parade enacts a dissolution of the subject/object binary to meditate on the interimbrication of not just self and other but the collapsing of subject into object, there and back again” (9)

“[T]here are key differences between actor-network theory and phenomenological approaches such as Dourish’s and Ahmed’s. As Victor Kaptelinin and Bonnie Nardi point out, phenomenology retains a commitment to subjectivity, and its interest in technological mediation is one of context, a way of reaching a deeper understanding of the individual subject (205). And, we might add, actor-network theory seems to presume a sort of intentional innocence among its nodes and has been “forcibly reminded of its non-innocence by Donna Haraway in her own much more explicitly political material semiotics. . . . We make realities, she said. They only question is: what kind of difference do we want to make?” (Law 154). We might add to that question another: How do we recognize in these webs possibilities for making difference, for making a difference? And how do we do so purposefully?” (10).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

Rhodes and Alexander touch on many of the conversations that rapidly circulate, bemoaning technology’s influence particularly in communication practices. I was reminded of the video above as I most often hear these discussions related to millennials. While this video captures a snapshot—an edited original post with a response—of the discussion of millennials, it touches on our generation’s relationship to technology in multiple spots In its medium, comments about the use of Facebook, and perhaps most interestingly in the flurry of updates from various social media platforms received at the end (a visual move that seemed vaguely reminiscent of a common drag move to layer sound clips and increase aural friction and end with a deathdrop) seems to address Rhodes’s discussion of desiring updates and the orienting force that engagement with these kinds of updates can have on subjects. Rhodes and Alexander discuss looking at the relationship between subjectivities and objects through moments of disruption, dissonance, and disorientation as these moments are times when we come in contact with the orienting force of those objects. Their queer phenomenological turn is one that meets technology, composition, and affect.

In their discussion of Mood Map, Verbalucce, Lumo Lift, and Pavlok and their orienting force—”Stand tall. Be positive. Don’t waste time on Facebook. Get up earlier. Be efficient” (6)—I’m reminded of my felt sense of being on Facebook and the ways in which people compose their presence on various social media platforms to highlight a positive (even wishful) best self and the tacit ways of being that these platforms promote toward cultural ideals of happiness and productivity, as well as the isolating/disorienting force these platforms are capable of for those that do not experience that, experience it differently, deviate from such ideals, etc. Even how these platforms police such orientations. I think about the community of creative writers I follow on twitter and #AmWriting and #WriterLife and the prevalence of martyr-complex, writers do x (stay up all night/every night, write don’t talk, are always stressed).

What I also hear in this conversation on orientations goes back to the introduction, in which Rhodes and Alexander ask of inquiry into technology and desire for an “opening up potential for disrupting flow, disorienting attentions, and redirecting desires in more pleasurable and sustaining ways” (10). A perhaps Ahmed-esque (2014) desire for willfulness; a refusal to reproduce the orientation of (re)productivity, of compulsory happiness.

I think there’s a great work with ANT provided here that I would like to see methodologically explored more; the presumed innocence between nodes that ANT may presuppose. I think about the directive flow of objects and the ways I am composed along them as I compose myself through them; Ahmed (2006) and Said (1978) remind us that direction is not neutral—the language we use to describe language, the spatial relationships we compose through cartography, all make proximate and more readily available objects with ease while making others othered. A queer noticing of how bodies move through nodes, are acted upon by nodes, that calls attention to the force (sometimes violent force) with which subjects are directed in these directions, along trajectories. This noticing requires a queer phenomenology. As subjectivities are projected/directed/sustained along/within/through networked environments they are composed upon.

In my reflections on the introduction to this book, I talked about some of the ways I have experienced or come in contact with the directive force of mediating technologies and the movement of my subjectivity in some of these networked environments. I’m still grappling with some of this in this chapter (as I imagine I will be throughout this book). I’m starting to think a lot about Khôra in terms of networks, technologies, subjectivities, and my lived experiences of being triggered. I might repeat the questions stated by Rhodes and Alexander “How do we recognize in these webs possibilities for making difference, for making a difference? And how do we do so purposefully?” (10).

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander, “Introduction.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Introduction.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

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Summary:

Rhodes and  Alexander a series of queer moves in understanding the dispersal of subjects within digital networks, arguing that through mediated technologies subjects are recursively composed and embodied.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Rhetorics, Multimodality, Technology, New Media

Sources:

Lynch, Paul. “Composition’s New Thing: Bruno Latour and the Apocalyptic Turn.” College English 74.5 (2012): 458–76.

Shipka, Jody. Toward a Composition Made Whole. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2011.

Sullivan, Patricia Suzanne. Experimental Writing in Composition: Aesthetics and Pedagogies. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2012.

Quotations:

“We live in a world of constant measurement and data gathering, of dense networks in which the flows of information around us are mobilized to construct our identities as commodities for marketing, profiteering, and surveillance. Those flows carry their own orienting forces—currents we can become aware of and potentially redirect” (1).PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT (2)

“This techne has two broad parameters (1) the acknowledgment and even embrace of the idea of spectacle, the alienating distance between bodily self and representation as a productive space for critique; and (2) the importance of lived experiences to the formation of an ethical stance. The life of the body is not to be ignored” (5).

“That is, we attempt here both to map out and to provoke visceral awareness of the interimbrication of bodies and technologies, orienting and reorienting one another” (8).

“[W]e desire to become better attuned to the orientations enacted through our technologized networks—orientations that lurk behind, below, or beyond how we might already be more self-consciously “working with or against the agency of things.” … Second, that phenomenological turn also underscores our commitment to using such awareness—to the value of human awareness as potential for personal and political action” (9).

“If we take a queer turn here, we do it in order to flesh out how much bodies and objects construct and mediate the flow of desires. Indeed, those bodies and objects come into being and perception as desires, as desirable, as desiring. Many of them demand to be desired. Tracing out the ways they and we create and orient trajectories of desire—caressing attention into being, cajoling feeling into belief and action—continues the work of ideological critique while also opening up potential for disrupting flow, disorienting attentions, and redirecting desires in more pleasurable and sustaining ways” (10).

PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT (3)

“Our orientations themselves function as a particular symbolic order, a language of (im)possible directions. At the thetic moment, any subjectivity projects into the future, imagining a self, however provisional, that asks both to be sustained and to be subject to the possibilities—and the productive damage—of change, of growth. If growth is under erasure here, it is only because we recognize within any imagination of the future both the potential and the peril of embracing a trajectory. This is the work of mimesis, even digital mimesis—the potential revolution (or “revolving”) of dis/orientation that inheres in poetic language” (14).

“Such “composing” consists of a complex mix of affect and negotiation. On the one hand, queer composing is a demand born out of anger, resentment, pain…. This is a right we take in the full ugly face of how our lives have often been composed in ways that we not only do not recognize but that harm us…. We work and rework those dominant forms, both to counter and to assert, to say no to the damage done to us but also to use that damage to make livable lives” (15).

Questions, Reflections, Response:

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Reading the introduction of Techne, I was reminded of an art show of someone I went to school with during my undergrad at ECU, Paul Nissenbaum‘s collection, A Portrait of the Artist as a Gay Man. The pieces show a collection of self portraits that layer photography, printmaking, and painting mediating and remediating the subject’s performance of identity; the tools of this composition composing the subject as the artist composes the art. I see A Portrait of the Artist as a Gay Man as a work of Techne that embraces spectacle, understanding the “alienating distance between bodily self and representation” and is playfully engaged in the intimate entanglement of lived experience and its production technologies. I don’t intend to go to much into art criticism or aesthetics here, but I mention this collection of pieces as a visual play of the recurisive embodiment of mediating and networked technologies—the play with multiple art forms (and the playful allusion to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) that Nissenbaum produced resonated markedly for me in the ways that Rhodes and Alexander discuss the play with orienting forces they wrestled with personally and professionally in the work of Techne and its exploration of technologies and subjects.

As the field of composition increasingly integrates networks and ecologies into its theoretical wheelhouse, Techne‘s queer turn to the conversation may be an important one: a turn that notes the movement in the proliferation of subjects. If Queer Phenomenology (2006) asks the orientation of phenomenology, then Techne offers an attention to the orientation of subjects writing in networked environments. Techne takes up Ahmed’s discussion of the subject embracing and rejecting trajectories and her attentiveness to the shifts in trajectory—when a subject refuses to travel along a trajectory or refuses to reproduce or travel along lines that it is directed toward.

I wonder about digital mimesis and how much of the work of Techne and its attention to the body and experimental writing (which seems here to call one’s attention to the interimbrication of subject and composing technology) can be a response to the conversations of multimodality and new media in composition. Are we attentive to the ways that modalities are directive, orienting device? Do we talk about the trajectories and deviations with modalities we experience or embrace in composing? Do we talk enough about multimodality and new media enough to recognize the limitations and affordances other modalities allow beyond the mimetic? Is our engagement as a field oriented toward productivity and are there ways to create relationships to composing technologies that are sustainable and pleasurable?

I remember this passed semester having some of these conversations with my students. I was surprised with the level of friction and anxiety my students felt toward more experimental forms of composing. We were able to discuss their discomfort and their disorientation with composing out of words-in-a-row forms and had several generative conversations about their compositions from this.

I wonder about composing from a state of generative restlessness, from a space playful with pasts and futures. The “I” as subject-in-process. Do we compose conscious of the author(ed) self as transient, shifting, moving in, through, and with the technologies we deploy? What does that mean to embody a pedagogical stance that is aware of that shifting and author(ed) self, (co)created with mediating technologies? What does that mean for research methods and data collection if we methodologically understand subjects as transitory and recursively embodied through the mediating technologies?

I think about the always already and the way that I inhabit as self in spaces in time (Doo-weee-oooo!). Often, I find myself confronted with the trajectories and the orienting force of objects around me. As a queer person, I come into contact with the directive force of heteronormativity: the repetition of ‘coming out’ (coming out as becoming), the homonormative turns in gay communities (Grindr culture that reads “Masc 4 masc”, “No fats, no femmes, no Asians”), and the constant need to articulate the relevance of queer rhetorics to a field that has taken social justice and cultural work as its mantle for at least 20 years. I feel the technologies composing me in networks that seek to identify me (you should seriously look at what changes on Facebook if you tell it you’re a gay man—all the underwear ads; HIV treatment ads), and yet composing myself in these spaces and performing my queer identity as a space to effect change, conversation, visibility, being, and becoming. I am as a subject in these moments generated and negated. I embrace a history, a future, I compose an identity for myself, but in so doing, forsake, abandon, and deviate from other trajectories.

As someone with depression and PTSD, this confrontation is ever more apparent. What triggers me? When? Where? Am I present where I’m triggered and am I when I am present when I am triggered? It’s in those moments that time folds, frictive moments in time, when I am not just reminded of my attack, but I am my self, the same 20 year old, three years ago, today. That subjectivity movement that refuses to move straight but shifts back in history/present and refuses a sort of “progress” linearity is a sort of queer temporality. That folding of the line in on itself could be an excess of present/presence afforded in dense networked spaces that have orienting, flowing force.

Notes: Jeff Rice, “Networked Assessment”

Rice, Jeff. “Networked Assessment.” Computers and Composition 28.1 (2011): 28-39.

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Summary:

Jeff Rice uses network theory, drawing heavily on Latour, to develop a new media inspired writing program assessment method.

Keywords: Assessment, Network, New Media, Writing Studies

Sources:

Prior, Paul, & Shipka, Jody. “Chronotopic lamination: Tracing the contours of literate activity.” In Charles Bazerman, & David Russell (Eds.), Writing selves/Writing societies: Research from activity perspectives. Fort Collins, CO: WAC Clearinghouse and Mind, Culture, and Activity, 2003.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake, & Huot, Brian (Eds.). Assessing writing across the curriculum: Diverse approaches and practices. Greenwich, CT: Ablex, 1997.

Quotations:

“Networked thinking has emerged as a way of making sense of disparate information collected in a given space. In writing studies or its assessment, however, network thinking has not emerged in the same manner. Although we live in an age dominated by new media technologies as varied as word processing and social networking, we spend little time considering how the logics and rhetorics of such technologies might shape institutional practices like assessment that attempt to gather information into a space” (28).

“When one has collected enough detailed descriptions, on can then trace various relationships among the collected material and begin to see how these relationships contribute to a given meaning system. Whatever is described and traced will reveal unknown relationships… The purpose of tracing is to flesh out the possible relationships existing in any given moment, to create what Latour calls an account. An account is a description, not proof of value” (29).

“While assessment has generally concerned itself with issues of value, proving a program or individual’s work is valuable to oneself or to a higher governing body, we might benefit from imagining a networked based assessment whose focus is account based rather than value based” (29).

“My interest is in proposing the tracing of recurring links as a method for conducting writing program assessment” (29).

“These events, no matter how local we make them out to be, function in relationship to other events. In these relationships, a myriad of influences might play into a given writing moment that an ethnographic study might not observe: time of day, mood, interests, desires, motivations, media influence, writing that the student does elsewhere, the room itself, what happened before the student sat down to write, and so on–the very things that compose a localized relationship…” (31).

“Assessment, therefore, may not have to depend on the outcome of success or failure, good or bad, right or wrong, value or lack of value in order to be meaningful to one’s program or superiors” (31).

“I am interested in an assessment which, influenced by new media, may need to invent its own vocabulary and not be shaped by the previous ideological positions or terminologies, as admirable as these terms (validity, ethics) might be” (33).

“The networked assessment does not discard the traditional objects of study assessment treats… Their commonality is important to the networked experience; our task is to extend this commonality so that the areas are viewed as being in relationship with one another” (35).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

I’m fairly familiar with the Huot (1996) call for localized forms of assessment and I think the application of network theory as a practice for program assessment is an compelling method for conducting these assessments. This development of a cartographic assessment that can entered at any point, triangulate outcomes with patterns and objects of study through the use of network theory and mix-method research, and is followable is a lot of what I’ve been looking for in an assessment method. I wonder then if there is a way to give network assessment as a way to respond to student writing, or to make a network assessment of the local assumptions of assessment’s value and make explicit its theoretical underpinnings.