A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Ward, Mark

3 found.

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The Banality of Rhetoric? Assessing Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" Against Current Scholarship on the Holocaust   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Since 1992, Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" on the rhetoric of technical communication during the Holocaust has become a reference point for discussions of ethics. But how does his thesis compare to current understandings of the Holocaust? As this article describes, Katz was in step with the trend two decades ago to universalize the lessons of the genocide but his thesis presents key problems for Holocaust scholars today. Against his assertion that pure technological expediency was the ethos of Nazi Germany, current scholarship emphasizes the role of ideology. Does that invalidate his thesis? Katz's analysis of rhetoric and his universalizing application to the Holocaust are two claims that may be considered separately. Yet even if one does not agree that "expediency" is inherent in Western rhetoric, Katz has raised awareness that phronesis is socially constructed so that rhetoric can be unethically employed. Thus, rather than remain an uncritically accepted heuristic for technical communicators, "The Ethic of Expediency" can be a starting point for ongoing exploration into the ethical and rhetorical dimensions of the genre.

Ward, Mark. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Education>History>Ethics


The Ethic of Exigence: Information Design, Postmodern Ethics, and the Holocaust   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Compared to ethics in technical writing, ethics in design has received less attention. This lack of attention grows more apparent as document design becomes ‘‘information design.’’ Since Katz discerned an ‘‘ethic of expediency’’ in Nazi technical writing, scholars have often framed technical communication ethics in categorical terms. Yet analyses of information design must consider why arrangements of text and graphics have symbolic potency for given cultures. An ‘‘ethic of exigence’’ can be seen in an example of Nazi information design, a 1935 racial-education poster that illustrates how designers and users co-constructed a communally validated meaning. This example supports the postmodern view that ethics must account for naturalized authority as well as individual actions.

Ward, Mark. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Information Design>History>Ethics


Squaring the Learning Circle: Cross-Classroom Collaborations and the Impact of Audience on Student Outcomes in Professional Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Student compositions traditionally are written for the teacher. Yet instructors of professional communication genres have discovered that students' motivation may be enhanced when they write assignments for audiences of peers within the classroom or professionals outside the campus. Yet client-based projects require writing students who have never yet written for an external audience to make a leap beyond the classroom. To bridge the gap between writing for classroom peers and writing for professional clients, this article describes a third and intermediate choice of audience, namely, external peers in cross-classroom collaborations that occur via telecommunication. The author places this intermediate-audience strategy within the larger conversation about the impact of audience on student writing outcomes, applies the strategy to professional writing pedagogy, and reports the results of a small pilot study that provide some preliminary support for the strategy.

Ward, Mark. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2009). Articles>Education>Business Communication>Collaboration

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