A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Bazerman, Charles

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The Case for Writing Studies as a Major Discipline    (peer-reviewed)

Literate activity, directly and indirectly, occupies much of the day of people in modern society. Literacy in its basic and more elaborated, specialized forms is the cornerstone in the education of the young. Literacy and symbolic artifacts underlay the information age and its information economy. Literacy along with its enabling technologies and consequent forms of social, political, and economic organization, has supported ways of life that distinguish us from humans of 5000 years ago. Literate engagement is also associated with forms of belief, commitment, and consciousness that shape modern personality. Yet the study of writing--its production, its circulation, its uses, its role in the development of individuals and societies, and its learning by individuals, social collectives, and historically emergent cultures--remains a dispersed enterprise. Inquiry into skills, practices, objects, and consequences of reading and writing is the concern of only a few people, fragmented across university disciplines, with no serious home of its own.

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB (2002). Articles>Education>Writing


Genre and Identity: Citizenship in the Age of the Internet and the Age of Global Capitalism

One of the more popular academic slogans of this half century is Wittgenstein's characterization of language-in-use as a form of life. Genre theory takes this slogan seriously. In perceiving an utterance as being of a certain kind or genre, we become caught up in a form of life, joining speakers and hearers, writers and readers, in particular relations of a familiar and intelligible sort. As participants orient towards this communicative social space they take on the mood, attitude, and actional possibilities of that placeóthey go that place to do the kinds of things you do there, think the kinds of thoughts you think there, feel the kind of way you feel there, satisfy what you can satisfy there, be the kind of person you can become there (Bazerman 1997, 1998). It is like going to a dining room, or a dance hall, or a seminar, or church. You know what you are getting yourself into and what range of relations and objects will likely be realized there. You adopt a frame of mind, set your hopes, plan accordingly, and begin acting with that orientation.

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB (1999). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory


Genre in a Changing World   (peer-reviewed)

Genre studies and genre approaches to literacy instruction continue to develop in many regions and from a widening variety of approaches. Genre has provided a key to understanding the varying literacy cultures of regions, disciplines, professions and educational settings. Genre in a Changing World provides a wide-ranging sampler of the remarkable variety of current work. The twenty-four chapters in this volume, reflecting the work of scholars in Europe, Australasia, North and South America, were selected from the over 400 presentations at SIGET IV (the Fourth International Symposium on Genre Studies) held on the campus of UNISUL in Tubarão, Santa Catarina, Brazil in August 2007 — the largest gathering on genre to that date. The chapters also represent a wide variety of approaches including rhetoric, Systemic Functional Linguistics, media and critical cultural studies, sociology, phenomenology, enunciation theory, the Geneva school of educational sequences, cognitive psychology, relevance theory, sociocultural psychology, activity theory, Gestalt psychology, and schema theory. Sections are devoted to theoretical issues, studies of genres in the professions, studies of genre and media, teaching and learning genre, and writing across the curriculum. The broad selection of material in this volume displays the full range of contemporary genre studies and sets the ground for a next generation of work.

Bazerman, Charles and Adair Biondi. WAC Clearinghouse (2009). Books>Rhetoric>Genre>International


Green Giving: Engagement, Values, Activism, and Community Life   (peer-reviewed)

Philanthropic campaigns typically offer value identification and identity rewards for gift giving. These rewards may be increased by engaging the gift-givers within the work and activity of the charitable organization; moreover, fund-raising may reach beyond the limited budget people typically allocate to psychic goods if charitable gifts are perceived as part of the costs of one's way of life and as part of the meanings, activities, and communities within which one lived one's life. In support of these claims, I examine environmental fund-raising in Santa Barbara through interviews with fund-raisers involved with the Community Environmental Council and the campaign to purchase a major coastal property for a preserve. The fundraising for CEC indicates ways in which people's identities and commitments may be drawn on and reinforced and how people's interests in sustaining a way of life can become the basis of funding campaigns; CEC fundraising suggests that activism does not necessarily translate into giving, depending on the nature of the active engagement. The case of the preservation of the Wilcox property suggests how commitment to a community way of life can mobilize extraordinary giving when the community as a whole starts to perceive itself engaged in common endeavor and commitment. The success of the campaign itself then becomes a sign of community strength and community values.

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB. Articles>Rhetoric>Community Building


How Natural Philosophers Can Cooperate: The Literary Technology of Coordinated Investigation in Joseph Priestley's History and Present State of Electricity (1767)   (PDF)

During scientific researchers' collaborations, authors draw on many extratextual resources (social, intellectual and empirical) which are deployed in their texts.

Bazerman, Charles. WAC Clearinghouse (1991). Articles>Scientific Communication>Collaboration


IText: Future Directions for Research on the Relationship between Information Technology and Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The vast majority of people who use information technology (IT) every day use IT in textcentered interactions. In e-mail, we compose and read texts. On the Web, we read (and often compose) texts. And when we create and refer to the appointments and notes in our personal digital assistants, we use texts. Texts, as already a technology in themselves, are deeply embedded in cultural, cognitive, and material arrangements that go back thousands of years. Information technologies with texts at their core — the blend of IT and texts that we call ITexts — are, by contrast, a relatively recent development. To participate with other information researchers in shaping the evolution of these ITexts, researchers and scholars concerned with the production and reception of text must build on a knowledge base and articulate issues, a task undertaken in this article. We begin by reviewing the existing foundations for a research program in IText, then go on to scope out issues for research over the next five to seven years. We direct particular attention to the evolving character of ITexts and to their impact on society. By undertaking this research, we urge ourselves and others to play a part in the continuing evolution of technologies of text.

Geisler, Cheryl, Charles Bazerman, Stephen Doheny-Farina, Laura J. Gurak, Christina Haas, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, David S. Kaufer, Andrea Lunsford, Carolyn R. Miller, Dorothy Winsor and JoAnne Yates. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2001). Articles>Writing>Online


Letters and the Social Grounding of Differentiated Genres   (peer-reviewed)

Several times in my research over the years, I have noticed letters playing a role in the emergence of distinctive genres: the early scientific article emerging from the correspondence of Hans Oldenburg, the first editor of the Philosophic Transactions of the Royal Society; the patent, originally known as letters patent; stockholders' reports evolving from letters to stockholders; and internal corporate reporting and record forms regularizing internal corporate correspondence. was not the first to notice any of these; however, in putting the four cases together, it struck me that these may be part of a more general pattern. As I pursued the thought that letters might have a special role in genre formation, many other examples of genres with strong connections to correspondence came to my attention, including newspapers and other periodicals, financial instruments such as bills of exchange and letters of credit, books of the New Testament, papal encyclicals, and novels. The letter, in its directness of communication between two parties within a specific relationship in specific circumstances (all of which could be commented on directly), seemed to provide a flexible medium out of which many functions, relationships, and institutional practices might develop--making new uses socially intelligible at the same time as allowing the form of the communication to develop in new directions.

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB. Articles>Rhetoric>Correspondence>Genre


Making Meaning and Value for Edison’s Light and Power in the Human World: A Rhetorical Project   (peer-reviewed)

Of all the early electrical inventors and manufacturers, Thomas Edison seemed particularly aware of the many meanings electrical light had to establish. It was attention to the successful representations of the light in many different communities and networks of communication, as much as his technical accomplishments, that led to Edison having a dominating role in the early electrical industry. He had to create valued stable meanings within each communication realm in each social network that would grant incandescent light and central power the necessary status to be accepted, supported, approved of, employed, or otherwise actively a part of each system brought together over communication.

Bazerman, Charles. Lore (2001). Articles>Communication>Technology


Shaping Written Knowledge: The Genre and Activity of the Experimental Article in Science   (peer-reviewed)

In Shaping Written Knowledge, Charles Bazerman traces the history and character of the experimental article in science, calling attention to the social and rhetorical forces that shaped its development. Truly a landmark in writing studies, this book provides a broadly interdisciplinary exploration of an important genre and offers insights that extend far beyond its immediate focus of study.

Bazerman, Charles. Academic.Writing (1988). Books>Scientific Communication


Theories of the Middle Range in Historical Studies of Writing Practice   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent historical examinations of nonliterary, nontheoretical texts within their activity settings have aimed to identify the historically developed communicative and rhetorical resources currently available to writers and to reveal the dynamics of the formation,use,and evolution of those resources. These studies, in examining communal literate practices, combine theoretical, empirical, and practical concerns by building theories of the middle range. This methodological article elaborates how theories of the middle range can guide research through identifying interrelated levels of research questions (originating, specifying, and site specific) and identifying strategic research sites. This article further elaborates methods of finding, selecting, and analyzing relevant texts and placing them within appropriate social and historical contexts.

Bazerman, Charles. Written Communication. Articles>Writing>History>Rhetoric


What Is Not Institutionally Visible Does Not Count: The Problem of Making Activity Assessable, Accountable, and Plannable   (PDF)

This hypertext examines from an activity theory perspective the vexed problem of assessment and its relation to planning, accountability, curriculum, and learning. Assessment although only part of the educational process has implications for almost all of education. Local, state, and federal policies that have put great weight and high stakes on a battery of assessment tools that stand outside the daily life of the classroom but are intended to hold classrooms, teachers, and schools accountable for results. While situated evaluation is an aspect of most human practices, institution-wide testing creates substantial difficulties for the local practices of each class, and particularly creates tensions between student-centered classroom practice and subject-centered expectations. Such tensions have been a continuing puzzle for progressive education. Dewey and his followers regularly preferred to keep evaluation and decision-making local, but for various institutional reasons had to seek larger ways of assessing student achievement without ever being able to develop fully appropriate assessment tools. The teaching of writing has faced a similar dilemma, with standardized forms of writing assessment setting reductionist definitions and expectations of writing, and not directing students towards the highest levels of accomplishment. This study considers genre and activity analysis as the basis for defining and assessing writing tasks through analysis of materials collected from a complex sequence of social studies writing assignments on the Maya from a sixth grade class.

Bazerman, Charles. WAC Clearinghouse (2003). Articles>Education>Assessment>Activity Theory


Writing Selves/Writing Societies: Research from Activity Perspectives   (peer-reviewed)

This is the first in a series of online books sponsored by the WAC Clearinghouse. The chapters in this edited collection consider human activity and writing from three different perspectives: the role of writing in producing work and the economy; the role of writing in creating, maintaining, and transforming socially located selves and communities; and the role of writing formal education. The editors observe, 'The activity approaches to understanding writing presented in this volume give us ways to examine more closely how people do the work of the world and form the relations that give rise to the sense of selves and societies through writing, reading, and circulating texts. These essays provide major contributions to both writing research and activity theory as well as to the recently emerged but now robust research tradition that brings the two together.'

Bazerman, Charles and David R. Russell. Academic.Writing (2002). Books>Writing>Writing Across the Curriculum>Rhetoric

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