Theorizing technocentrism in computers and composition: Conflicting values, competing visions, and pedagogical intervention
School: Purdue University (0183)
Date: 1995 pp: 220
Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
Source: DAI-A 57/07, p. 2984, Jan 1997
Subjects:Education, Technology (0710); Education, Higher (0745); Education, Language And Literature (0279)
ProQuest Document Number:
UMI Number: AAT 9638278
This dissertation examines the scholarly literature of computers and composition instruction at the college level, arguing that several unexamined assumptions point to the existence of a technocentric framework–a central, guiding belief in the power and potential of technology. It is argued that there are two parts of the technocentric framework–an optimistic perspective and a critical perspective. In the optimistic perspective, computers are enthusiastically embraced as revolutionizing composition instruction, writing, and reading. This perspective overwhelmingly focuses on positive uses of computers in writing instruction, which this project argues was and is necessary in situations where computers are needed or newly adopted. In response to this optimism, Computers and Composition developed a critical perspective which attempted to counter-balance the excesses of the optimistic perspective by developing understandings of computers as ideological, political and appropriate only within certain contexts. Still, both perspectives are firmly entrenched in unacknowledged technocentric thinking.
An analysis based in social epistemic rhetorics and cultural studies approaches to language and culture is used to examine assumptions about computers, learning and writing which circulate unacknowledged in the Computers and Composition discourse. Through this analysis, it is argued that technocentric thinking is unavoidable for Computers and Composition, given the basic nature of the area of inquiry. Technocentrism should not be embraced blindly; rather, technocentric thinking in writing instruction theory should be acknowledged and problematized in order to better understand its workings. As this is a position that must be engaged in by both theorists and composition students, the project concludes with a discussion of pedagogical strategies for addressing technocentric thinking in both curriculum and students’ thinking. This discussion relies on feminist theories of technology and feminist theories of pedagogy which have been developed both within and outside Composition Studies.