Hardy – Week 8 – Reading Response

Of the readings for this week, I was most drawn to Haas’s piece. I found her “mini-definitional” sections interesting. Race, rhetoric, and technology have no fixed meanings, so Haas defines them the way she understands them, which I appreciate as a reader. Authors should be upfront in the way they approach broad concepts and acknowledge their own interpretation as just one way of looking at things. My favorite bits include her framing rhetoric as a cultural techne and also “a result, a precursor, and a limit to productive knowledge making” (287), race as a “colonial rhetoric by-product” (292), and technology as a thing, something that can be isolated and known apart from a cultural context (290). Where these concepts converge can be tricky to address, but I think Haas approaches it properly by first looking at each one individually and then how those ideas rub up against each other.

In many ways, Haas’s article is a model to emulate; it’s sharply organized, accessibly written, and — oh, I like her voice, too — she addresses me as “dear reader,” an interesting rhetorical move on her part, but I digress — and the way she tackles the pedagogy section gives me a clear sense of what I should take away from this article. Her trials and tribulations of designing the course to make it viable and less “edgy” also gives me an idea of the kind of hurdles one goes through to create a course (294). It also helps me see what tensions or hostility can manifest in the classroom because of the volatility of the topics.  Trivia: Dr. Erin Frost makes a cameo (301).

Agboka refers to technical communication as a “virtuous field” (166), yet one that must consider the role human rights plays in shaping research and pedagogical approaches to technical communication (166). I found the author’s definition of rhetoric reductive, and relies perhaps too heavily a rhetorical analysis with too few implications for teachers of technical communication to consider. The most significant takeaway here, I think, is that technical documents can raise “ethical or human rights issues” even if our intentions are good (185), and we should strongly consider how we teach students about its rhetorical powers. As a result, students will be more civic minded and more capable of critical engagement with human rights issues outside the classroom.

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