Jones and Walton’s argue that technical communicators must adopt theories and practices that make social justice their primary aim, focusing on direct action that can lessen inequities in the populations we work with. They define social justice research for technical communication as a practice of exploring “how communications, broadly defined, can amplify the agency of oppressed people–those who are materially, socially, politically, and/or economically under-resources” (337), thereby authorizing technical communicators to take on the role of an “author” (Slack, Miller, and Doak, 2006), one who articulates and rearticulates meaning and relationships in a given context. Jones and Walton focus on the power of story as the primary mechanism of meaning-making through both the production and analysis of narratives of possibility in technical communication contexts and outline four elements of narrative (identification, reflexivity, historiocity, and context) that they believe are essential to helping technical communication scholars understand their and their participants’ lived realities and the agency they have to change them. What I wonder about here, though, is about their Western understanding of story, one that seems a bit restrictive in the focus on Aristotelian conventions like main characters, climax etc., and I wonder how “little narratives” (Bamberg and Georgakopoulou, 2008) might open up even greater possibility for action that isn’t dependent on “climactic” (read: male-centered) language. Similarly, Leah Ann Bell’s work on storytelling for social justice could be added in here to help us explore positioning and privilege and flesh out the idea of the “antenarrative” with richer understandings of stock stories, resistance narratives, and transformational narratives. Hmmm… this piece, however, gives me the frame I need to write about my work with X-ray Goggles, though, and how I use Mozilla tool to help students hack the web to write new techno-narratives. I’m going to hold onto that for later article fodder.
I first read Moeller’s piece in Dr. Frost’s class last semester and quite liked the way she uses FDS (although I can’t not think about “feminine deodorant spray”) to demonstrate how “race for the cure” rhetorics operate on a normalizing logic of bodies that are efficient and expedient. I really appreciated the moves that Moeller made to position herself in the analysis as she shows how she has been personally affected by breast cancer and praises the larger goal of the Komen for the Cure foundation while arguing that the means by which they achieve their goals have real and harmful impacts on the bodies that the foundation is working to help. Following Katz (1993) and Ward Sr. (2010), she interrogates the expediency of medicalized rhetoric that stigmatizes lesbians, women without children, and women with disabilities, arguing that Komen for the Cure’s website design uses a retrofitted approach (323) to account for bodily difference, using outdated information to backwards accommodate for those who don’t fall into the default category of straight, white, American, middle class, able-bodied, cis-gendered “woman.” Her work reminds me of Welch and Scott’s (2014) critical material feminism in that a FDS framework “asks students, to not just pay attention to what is present, but what is absent, as well, and what and how that absence says to real, material bodies (330). Framed as a question on page 333, this is a directive to remember that communication is not just discursive; it is a technology to extend the body that has lived, material effects on our own and others’ bodies.