Unexpected Truth

“Rhetoric is defined as language designed to persuade or impress; the word may be considered a euphemism for loaded language” (2). I tend to enjoy reading Carolyn Miller’s definition of rhetoric in her article A Humanistic Rationale for Technical Writing. I say this because her definition is the exact opposite of what I believe rhetoric stands for, which is very interesting. I do believe this this course and the reading would benefit my personal writing style. Just from reading the first article I can say that I tend to favor a more technical writing style and truly agree with Miller when she states, “Anyone who is convinced that only facts should persuade must, logically, condemn such rhetoric in the scientific literature” (2). And I do believe facts are important and effective when making a claim rather than. Another quote I found really interesting from Miller’s article states, “Rhetoric relies upon “artistic proofs,” those which are created by the art of the speaker or writer. Science has to do with what Aristotle called “inartistic proofs,” facts or artifacts which exist independently of human intentions and emotions and about which deliberation is unnecessary.” I believe this just supports my personal habits while writing.

I did find that the field of technical writing makes more sense when Miller gives her background of what should be expect when writing. “Technical writing is expected to be objective, scientifically impartial, utterly clear, and unemotional…. Technical writing is concerned with facts and the careful, honest interpretation of these facts” (2). This brings me to my concern as to why this style of writing has rumored of being in other departments besides English. I understand that it can vary from institutional preference, but I would hope to do some research as to why this is a common situation.

On page 325 of Rachel Harlow’s The Province of Sophists: An Argument for Academic Homelessness, it quotes, “But the discipline of technical and professional communication does not easily conform to customary academic hierarchies, largely because of its interdisciplinary. It is considered too professional for liberal arts (Kynell & Tebeaux, 2009; Spigelman & Grobman, 2006) but not technical enough for technical fields (Mogull, 2008, p. 368)” that left me with a few questions that I can answer. For example, technical writing focuses on scientific, clear facts within research, but a research methods course also offers the same style of writing. I would like to know what other factors influence comments such as Kynell’s and Tebeaux’s. Harlow also states, “In addition to a place within academic hierarchies, the academic home as defined above implies that a discipline is a repository of techne or field-specific knowledge, methodology, theory, philosophy, discourse practice, and convention” (326). From the readings I believe that technical writing would fall into one of those categories, mostly because of the discourse practice and I think that should give the field lead way to find a home in an English department, because those are many aspects that English values within writing.


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