Humanistic Aspects of Technical Communication

By Gooch, John | Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), Winter 1997 | Go to article overview

Humanistic Aspects of Technical Communication


Gooch, John, Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)


Humanistic Aspects of Technical Communication. Edited by Paul M. Dombrowski. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, 1994.

In the spirit of Carolyn Miller's "A Humanistic Rationale for Technical Communication" (1979) and Steven B. Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" (1992), Paul Dombrowski's Humanistic Aspects of Technical Communication further emphasizes the need for attention to the "human" element in technical communication. In recent years, scholars of technical communication have become increasingly aware of the importance of the human condition, and furthermore, that this human condition poses implications for technical communicators as they design and develop discourse. In relating this theme of "humanistic aspects," Dombrowski organizes the anthology into four major areas: rhetoric of science, social constructionism, feminist perspectives, and ethics. The book concerns itself primarily with establishing that social and cultural influences have played no small role in the development of scientific discourse and technical communication, broadly defined, as an academic field of inquiry. Furthermore, the text rebuts traditional positivistic notions of knowledge and language which assume that "the objective world can be known directly and this knowledge remains separate from language and the theories articulated in language" (7).

The text provides a more postmodern look at the field because the essays argue the importance of social and cultural issues in the development of technical communication. In each of the four sections of the text, the authors argue technical communicators exist in a social and cultural context in which they create knowledge, and that this context directly influences the creation of that knowledge and the development of technical discourse. In the section devoted to the rhetoric of science, R. …

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