ENGL609 - Technologies of Writing

As Anne Frances Wysocki writes, “we use no technology outside the webs of its history, of its connections to other technologies, or of our motley and complex relations with others.” This course considers the long history of writing technologies from a rhetorical perspective. Writing is itself a primary technology of human memory and communication, and attention to the tools and materials associated with written discourse brings to light the systems of design, manufacturing, and distribution in which we write. By examining technologies of writing—by hand, in print, and at the keyboard—in relation to the cultures that inform(ed), maintain(ed), and adapt(ed) them, we position ourselves to develop stronger analyses of writing in and across various media.

Over the semester our approach will be neither comprehensive nor chronological, but rather will be to consider selected examples from manuscript, print, and digital cultures in a range of historical periods. We will read scholarship in writing studies, media studies, and design studies and also engage in critical experimentation with technologies of writing through workshop activities. Requirements include weekly blog posts, a public writing assignment, and a final project.