The Rhetorical Institutions of WAC/WID

Longo, Britt, and Grabill’s chapters helped me think through several aspects of my final project, including a combination of Activity Theory, Foucaultian archaeological approach combined with critical theory, and Longo’s (2006) five themes of discourse as a framework for reconsidering the WAC Academy and examining participants’ teaching artifacts and curations. I also started to think about how postmodern mapping (Grabill) could be used to represent various moments in the work.

Application of texts to my final project ideas:

Activity Theory as a framework for

  • (re)considering the WAC Academy as a boundary zone and micro-institution (Porter et al. 2000) along with its participant(s), communities, artifacts, activities, objects, and outcomes.
  • (re)examining teaching artifact(s) as cultural, workplace tool(s) used to mediate action, knowledge, and writing (Carter, 2007) within specific contexts (class, discipline, institution)
    • Objective, cultural, cultural properties?
    • Reflections of communities, rules, activities, objects…
    • Externalization of internalized action
    • Level(s) of activity
      • Activity towards an objective carries out by community (Why?)
      • Action towards a specific goal carried out by an individual with possible goals (What?)
      • Operation structure of an activity (How?)
  • Motivated activit(ies) directed at object/goal (what object/goal?)
  • Rules? Division of effort/labor?

This framework can be used to begin the post-structural process of illuminating the transparency of writing (Russell, 1990), the teaching of writing, and ideas of writing and disciplines.


Utilizing Foucaultian archaeological approach combined with critical theory and Longo’s (2006) five themes of discourse as an object of study to examine teaching artifacts from WAC Academy participants and their curations. Each of the objects below could be considered in the application of Activity Theory to the WAC Academy.

This process will lead to questions like: How do their artifacts and curations reflect the idea of discourse as a struggle mediated by culture (Longo)? How is it that particular statement(s) appeared rather than another (Foucault cited in Longo)?


I can use postmodern mapping as a tool to determine various moments and perspectives in the WAC Academy, participants’ artifacts, and the curation of their artifacts. Postmodern mapping can be used to

  • (re)consider relationships, development, activities, contexts, objects, artifacts, objects, and outcomes;
  • (re)conceptualize identities, and communities; and
  • empower participants to reflect on their experiences.

This approach will also encourage questions like

  • How were these tools created and transformed during development of activities during the WAC Academy?
  • What are evidences of the culture(s) that tools carry with them? The historical remains of their development?
  • How are these artifacts an accumulation and transmission of social knowledge? What is that social knowledge
  • How may these artifacts/tools influence external behavior and mental functioning of individual(s)/group(s) in writing classrooms?


Britt argues for critique aimed at the middle ground of micro-institutions as it extends beyond organizational borders by “attending to the power relations inherent in particular spatial and material conditions” (p.135). Her discussion includes a discussion of institutional critique (Porter et al., 2000) as a labeling strategy that calls attention to power by characterizing organizations as kinds of institutions – powerful entities and, therefore, possible sites for critical analysis and change. The resulting institutional critique is a fundamentally pragmatic effort to use rhetorical means to improve institutional systems by examining structure from spatial, visual, and organizational perspectives; seeks gaps or cracks as paces where resistance and change are possible; and undermines the binary between theory and empirical research by engaging in situated theorizing and relating that theorizing through stories of change and attempted change.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s