Talk Session-Rethinking the Relationship Between Writing and Civic Education in an Age of “Mass Self-Communication”

How do the increased opportunities for public participation and engagement brought about by digital composing technologies shape the way we teach writing?

The rise of what Manuel Castells has called “mass self-communication” technologies–open-access web publishing platforms, social networking technology, curation software, etc.–cannot help but radically reshape what we think of when we talk about “writing.”  A wide range of technologists and researchers have reminded us of the increased public agency we now possess as a result of these technologies of/for writing and have pointed to their role in expanding the public sphere. The rise of these technologies also roughly parallels the rise of a renewed interest in civic education and global civic education in higher education.  If mass self-communication technologies have expanded opportunities for civic writing and public participation, and we believe that higher education has a civic role, then how must our approaches to teaching writing adapt and change? What types of digital literacies, writing processes, and rhetorical capabilities do our students need for lives of civic engagement?

In this talk session, I would like to draw upon examples from a variety of writing courses to explore the possibility of an integrated, interdisciplinary understanding of writing, digital literacy, and rhetorical education that can help define more concrete goals and outcomes for civic education. I am interested in working together with participants to identify potential civic outcomes for the teaching of writing in an age of mass self-communication.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk |
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About Chris Minnix

I am Director of Freshman English and an Assistant Professor of English at UAB. My research area is rhetoric and composition studies, and my research looks at the role rhetorical education can play in the global higher education movement.

2 Responses to Talk Session-Rethinking the Relationship Between Writing and Civic Education in an Age of “Mass Self-Communication”

  1. I like the idea. Coming from a community college, with a vast majority of students who live and will continue to live within this same community, amplifies the need for me to connect what I do in the writing classroom not only to what is going on in a welding bay or cosmetologist’s chair, but to the community at large.

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