4: Blakeslee/Fleischer Prompts, Ch. 2

Prompt 2 (Blakeslee p. 15): Respond to the following questions:

  • What issues interest or concern you the most in your field?

First, my specific area is rhetoric/composition. Within that area, I am most interested in technical/professional communication (especially medical, legal, and journalistic contexts), gender issues, visible rhetoric, and new media studies.

  • What do you want to learn more about?

I want to learn more about the intersections of these areas of interest, especially how new media and gender issues affect and are enacted within the areas of technical/professional communication mentioned above.

  • Of the reading you have done in your courses or on your own, what has been most interesting to you? What are some topics you have read about that you find meaningful?

When I try to think of specific influential texts, two that I come up with are Francesca Bray’s Technology and Gender and Eva Brumberger’s The Rhetoric of Typgraphy. Both of these texts discuss issues of gender and technology and how they affect communication and/or society.

  • What’s been the most interesting to you (in your field)? What contradictions have you observed between what you have read and learned in your coursework and what you have experienced as a professional? Or … what observations or insights have you gained in discussions with your classmates and instructors? have any of your classmates or instructors identified issues in your field that interest you and that seem to warrant further research?

I am most interested in those places where my areas of interest intersect, and this is largely because I find practical application to be important. I mention above my interest in legal and journalistic contexts; I find these important because they affect such broad segments of the population. Although I enjoy theoretical research and research focused on academia, I sometimes feel that a liberal arts approach requires us to expand our horizons and that it is somewhat contradictory to take advantage of this approach without doing research that could potentially benefit the public. Essentially, I want to do research in areas that affect people. I want to be able to explain to a non-academic why what I do is important. Because of this need, the public contexts are an important part of the work I want to do.

  • Why do each of the topics you listed interest you?

Technical/professional communication interests me, in part, because it is a respected field. With one foot in this realm, I’ll have to spend less time fighting people to prove that I’m relevant. But it also interests me because of my background in journalism. I have seen the effects journalistic and legal texts can have on people’s lives, and I think it is important to examine such effects more thoroughly.

The effects of those texts are changing daily with the advent of new media like social networking and RSS. Again, this is a field where I see potential for growth, and I’m also fascinated with how these technological advances will change the way we compose, communicate, and think.

I’m drawn to gender issues, most likely, because I’m a woman and a feminist (and because I was raised a feminist).

I’m drawn to visible rhetoric because it has been so often cast aside by “serious” academics (or so it seems) and yet it is such an influence in the average U.S. citizen’s daily life.

  • Why do you want to learn more about the topics you listed? What do you want to learn about them?

I want to learn more about the topics above because of their incredible implications for our lives. These issues speak to the way we think, the way we construct relationships, the way we live. I want to learn how we can do those things better–better meaning in ways that are more fair, more sustainable, more transparent.

  • Why do the topics you identified from your reading and other sources hold meaning for you?

These topics hold meaning for me because, as stated above, they affect the fabric or our lives. I believe that knowledge of these subjects can substantially change the ways we live.

Prompt 3 (Blakeslee p. 19): Think of something you have read in your area of interest that you found troubling or lacking, something with which you disagreed, or something that seemed contradictory to your own experience. Identify it and try to articulate the problem or difficulty you had with it.

After reading Brumberger’s article (mentioned above) I’ve often wondered if there is more quantitative, gender-based research in the technical/professional communication field that I’m missing. I’ve recently learned (from our Smagorinsky text) that this may actually represent something of a gap in current research.

Aside from this, I’ve found that research in my areas of interest often leads me to research on race and class issues as well. I sometimes find discussions of race and class issues in these contexts to be both troubling and lacking. (These are the texts where I suddenly realize I’ve been arguing with myself and I have to consciously refocus on reading.) However, I am also somewhat uncomfortable speaking in this area because of the political ramifications of trying to express opinions on such heated topics (especially since my opinions often differ from the standard academic party line)–which perhaps means that it is something I should explore in more depth.

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