Like some other folks have mentioned, I was super excited to read this introduction and Erin’s chapter. The cultural and the social justice turns, on which Eble and Haas have predicated this collection are, for me, really energizing. So many of the arguments that they’re making are super important. First, the way that they position their work and its contribution to the conversation is noteworthy. They suggest that their collection contributes to a growing conversation by, “demonstrating that all technical communication contexts are multi- and inter-cultural and influenced by institutions and systems of power—and distributed agency therein—and that social justice approaches to technical communication better position us in any context to better advocate for technological and scientific change in equitable ways within these contexts.” (7) What an important gap for them to step into!
I’m really impressed with, not just that articulation of the position of tehe text, but also the range of goals that the collection aspires to. I like that they have goals on both the industry and academic sides of the field, as they describe here: “In addition to better representing diverse workplaces, practices,and practitioners, we hope that this collection will also inspire otherprogrammatic initiatives (e.g.,recruiting and supporting increased representation of, participation from, and mentoring of historically underrepresented and underserved populations, forming social justice committees and special interest groups, etc.)” (9) I think that the emphasis on teaching technical communication is important especially because of the pragmatic nature of our field. The students in our classrooms are not necessarily going to continue in our footsteps and work in the (often theoretically driven) world of academia. Instead, they will walk out into the world and do work that has materially impacts the lives of diverse groups of people. It is important for programs to take up this task, so that their students will enter the workforce ready to engage with cultural and social justice issues.
One point that the introduction makes that stood out especially clearly to me because it articulates a point that I was trying to make about power last week when Dr. St. Amant visited class. I wanted to discuss the fact that the political and hegemonic nature of globalization makes U.S. centered technical communication always already operating within an imbalance of power. Haas and Eble say this much more clearly than I was able to when they assert that, “[U.S. based technical communication] is a position…of privilege, and we argue that we should no longer feel comfortable in this position”(12). YES! I’m excited because this is an encouraging sign that this collection might give me language to articulate the pull I feel for the kind of work that I want to do.
I think I started to feel that pull in Erin’s class last semester. I really helped me to shift my perspective of technical and professional communication to see it through a much more humanist lens–although I didn’t have that language at the time (gee..look at how I’ve grown). So, it was especially rewarding to read her chapter along with this introduction because her apparent feminist theory really resonated with me (again) because it centers–and make apparent–a cultural stance and experience within spaces that is usually cast as neutral and objective.
I’m eager to continue to read to see if the collection lives up to the promises in the introduction. If so, it will earn a permanent spot on my bookshelf!