Understanding Through Narrative – Week 12 Response

I found this week’s readings to be difficult but (nonetheless) engaging. All three articles (Moore, Moeller, and Jones and Walton) seemed to pretty much focus on narrative, teaching pedagogy, theoretical framework, and how they should all be incorporated into acknowledging and advocating disenfranchised groups of people. In my very own troubles with grasping the social and cultural contexts that come along with recent studies within the field of technical and professional communication, I found Jones and Walton’s chapter explaining why narrative is a great choice to promote critical thinking about diversity and social justice to be enlightening. I thought back to our textbook, Solving Problems in Technical Communication, and though all of them did not speak on problems relating to diversity and social justice, I realized that the end of just about every chapter presented a heuristic and/or some kind of scenario that encouraged students to think about 1) the topic at hand and 2) how they could intervene if put into certain situations. After the article confirmed that “narrative has been examined and employed in technical communication research and pedagogy by a number of scholars” (338) I thought about its own effectiveness when applied to me. Most of the understanding that I’ve gained from this course comes directly from examples and/or narratives within the assigned text(s). Thinking back to Moore’s article and how she helped students ‘make knowledge’ within Black feminist framework used in her classroom(s) has also allowed me some insight as to how much our culture values the art of storytelling. It’s almost as if we have been conditioned to find/make meaning from narrative, no matter how it’s presented. Granted I found Moore’s chapter on Black Feminist Epistemology as a Framework Community-Based Teaching to be a bit confusing in a sense that I had difficulty connecting TPC to the community projects she spoke of, I like the explanation that Moore gives when it comes down to the mindset instructors should have when implementing Black feminist theory into classroom projects. By “resist[ing] the tendency to solely value effectiveness of documents, the clarity of ideas, and the efficiency of the project…students are encouraged to value the new knowledge they’ve gathered with citizens” (291). This, in itself, seems to agree with the theme of ‘going against the norm’ of technical and professional communication since one of the main goals of being a technical student is to learn how to make documents and other kinds of writing more user efficient. To take away from that focus (to me) seems to pull away from the very standardized definition that traditionally encompasses tech comm.

(Switching gears! Note: The following bit is reading based and highly opinionated.)

Now when it comes to Moeller’s approach to FDS (Feminist Disability Studies) and the examples provided in the text concerning breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen For The Cure, I must say that I was somewhat annoyed when reading this chapter. Although I wholeheartedly agree that “technical writers have an ethical obligation to consider the impacts we have on users, intended or not” (333), I felt that Moeller (in addition to the person who did the website and pamphlet writing for the Komen organization) did an excessive amount assuming and was (in all honesty) ‘stretching it.’ Before I end this post, I would like to turn attention to the end of page 329. Here Moeller assumes that the section on Komen’s pamphlet that speaks on disability and breast cancer is generalizing all disabilities into physical ones. I can see how the wording of the pamphlet makes women with disabilities out to be “irrational and logic-deficient” (330), but the point Moeller makes on disability generalization feels like a generalization all in itself. Am I the only one who feels this way?

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