Jennifer Talbot

Re-articulating postprocess: Affect, neuroscience, and institutional discourse

Jennifer Talbot

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2012 pp: 183
  • Advisor: Rickert, Thomas;┬áBay, Jennifer
  • Source: DAI-A 74/03(E)
  • Subjects: Language, literature and linguistics; Affect; Composition theory; Institutional discourse; Posthumanist rhetorics; Postprocess theory; Rhetoric and composition; Rhetoric;
  • ProQuest Document Number: 1234206934
  • ISBN: 9781267753366
  • UMI Number: AAT 3544540

Abstract:

Postprocess theories of composition have been the site of contention for some time; critics have argued that it lacks cohesion as a theoretical movement, that it is a failed theoretical endeavor due to its resistance to pedagogical application, and/or that it does not contribute anything new to existing composition theory. I argue that postprocess theory is most productively considered as a placeholder term within which a shift from humanist to posthumanist theories about writing continues to develop. My argument in this project has two threads: first, that the central theoretical purpose of postprocess theory has little to do with process; rather, its purpose has been to develop a theory of writing that does not have a Cartesian notion of subjectivity at its center. Second, in order to more fully develop an anti-Cartesian or post-Cartesian theory of writing, it is necessary to consider the role of the material body in shaping subjectivities in both short and long terms. At the center of this argument is the notion of triangulation. Though Thomas Kent (who introduced many of the formative concepts of postprocess theory in Paralogic Rhetoric: A Theory of Communicative Interaction , later applying them to composition in Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Process Paradigm) defines his point of triangulation as external and social, because the point of overlap is between mental constructs, it remains internal. Shifting the point of triangulation from conceptual constructs to embodied affectivity allows communication to emerge from a space that is both social and material. This notion of embodied triangulation is supported by recent work in neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Considering the ways in which our embodied, material practices inform our interactions with others and the world allows us to develop more fully a posthumanist notion of subjectivity and composition, and reinforces the idea of postprocess theory as primarily an institutional critique rather than a pedagogy.