Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts

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Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts offers a unique examination of writing as it is applied and used in academic and workplace settings. Based on a 7-year multi-site comparative study of writing in different university courses and matched workplaces, this volume presents new perspectives on how writing functions within the activities of various disciplines: law and public administration courses and government institutions; management courses and financial institutions; social-work courses and social-work agencies; and architecture courses and architecture practice. Using detailed ethnography, the authors make comparisons between the two types of settings through an understanding of how writing is operative within the particularities of these settings.

Although the research was initially established to further understanding of the relationships between writing in academic and workplace settings, it has evolved to examining writing as it is embedded in both types of settings--where social relationships, available tools, and historical, cultural, temporal, and physical location are all implicated in complex ways in the decisions people make as writers. Readers of this volume will discover that the uniqueness of each setting makes salient different aspects of writers and writing, resulting in complex, and potentially unsettling implications for writing theory and the teaching of writing.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Jun 17, 2013
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Pages
266
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ISBN
9781135691400
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Rhetoric
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The first full-length account integrating both the cognitive and sociological aspects of reading and writing in the academy, this unique volume covers educational research on reading and writing, rhetorical research on writing in the disciplines, cognitive research on expertise in ill-defined problems, and sociological and historical research on the professions.

The author produced this volume as a result of a research program aimed at understanding the relationship between two concepts -- literacy and expertise -- which traditionally have been treated as quite separate phenomena. A burgeoning literature on reading and writing in the academy has begun to indicate fairly consistent patterns in how students acquire literacy practices. This literature shows, furthermore, that what students do is quite distinct from what experts do. While many have used these results as a starting point for teaching students "how to be expert," the author has chosen instead to ask about the interrelationship between expert and novice practice, seeing them both as two sides of the same project: a cultural-historical "professionalization project" aimed at establishing and preserving the professional privilege.

The consequences of this "professionalization project" are examined using the discipline of academic philosophy as the "site" for the author's investigations. Methodologically unique, these investigations combine rhetorical analysis, protocol analysis, and the analysis of classroom discourse. The result is a complex portrait of how the participants in this humanistic discipline use their academic literacy practices to construct and reconstruct a great divide between expert and lay knowledge. This monograph thus extends our current understanding of the rhetoric of the professions and examines its implications for education.
"Contrary to the old adage about finding new names for old things, Writing Online: Rhetoric for the Digital Age gives new life and new meaning to old names. The book and its companion website transform ancient rhetoric as a process of oral composition—invention, arrangement, memory, style, and delivery—into a digital rhetoric, a dynamic process of writing for the World Wide Web: dynamic because it shows not only how to write in a Web-based medium but, more importantly, how to learn and adapt to a medium that is constantly evolving and changing. Unlike conventional books that provide specific solutions to specific problems, Writing Online reenacts the process of solving Web-based writing problems, explaining everything from how to create a simple web page to how to develop a sophisticated content management system and everything in between: HTML, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and much more. As a digital rhetoric, moreover, Writing Online recreates the ancient processes of oral composition for a digital era. Digital invention becomes a push-pull process of transmitting information via searches, alerts, news aggregators, and read-write algorithms. Digital arrangement becomes a question-and-answer process inviting multiple responses via intuitive navigation systems and dynamic patterns of organization. Digital memory transforms the ancient memory palace into a dynamic, programmable content management system. Digital style provides computer-based tools to enhance writers’ word choice, argumentative structures, and feedback. Digital delivery resituates speakers and writers in onscreen environments that balance functionality and aesthetics for optimum responsiveness and usability."
—James P. Zappen, Professor, Department of Communication and Media, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Over the past century, the explosive growth of scientific, technical, and cultural disciplines has profoundly affected our daily lives. However, processes of enculturation in sites such as graduate education that have helped to form these disciplines have received very limited research attention. In those sites, graduate students write diverse documents, including course papers, departmental examinations, theses and dissertations, grant and fellowship applications, and disciplinary publications. Thus, writing is one of the central domains of enculturation--an activity through which graduate students and professors display and negotiate disciplinary knowledge, genres, identities, and institutional contexts. This volume explores this intersection of writing and disciplinary enculturation through a series of ethnographic case studies. These case studies provide the most thorough descriptions available today of the lived experience of graduate seminars, combining analysis of classroom talk, students' texts and professor's written responses, institutional contexts, students' representations of their writing and its contexts, and professors' representations of their tasks and their students.

Given the complexities that the ethnographic data displayed, the author found that conventional notions of writing as a process of transcription and of disciplines as unified discourse communities were inadequate. As such, this book also offers an in-depth exploration of sociohistoric theory in relation to writing and disciplinary enculturation. Specific case studies introduce, apply, and further elaborate notions of:
* writing as literate activity,
* authorship as mediated by other people and artifacts,
* classroom tasks as speech genres,
* enculturation as the interplay of authoritative and internally persuasive discourses, and
* disciplinarity as a deeply heterogeneous, laminated, and dialogic process.

This blend of research and theory should be of interest to scholars and students in such fields as writing studies, rhetoric, writing across the curriculum, applied linguistics, English for academic purposes, science and technology studies, higher education, and the ethnography of communication.
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