Nonacademic Writing: Social Theory and Technology

By Ann Hill Duin; Craig J. Hansen | Go to book overview

Foreword

Clearly, the most exciting area of research and scholarship in writing is the area of nonacademic writing or, as it is alternatively named, workplace writing, technical and business writing, real-world writing, or as Ackerman and Oates suggest in this collection, writing in "settings of consequence." Part of the excitement comes from the relative newness of the area to be explored. Most scholarship on writing (in the disciplines of literature and rhetoric) has focused exclusively on the writing of literary authors (including as "literary" any published writing, regardless of genre, considered to have aesthetic merit). In the mid-20th century, academic writing both of students in classrooms and the scholarly writing of academic disciplines became an object of study for the burgeoning field of composition. And the contemporary study of nonacademic writing began, as this nomenclature belies, when writing teachers, motivated by their concerns about how well they were preparing students for their later writing on the job, employed the new methods and questions developed to study academic writing to look at workplace writing.

Like the refocusing of attention from the writing of literary authors to the writing of students and academics, the shift to studying the everyday writing practices of people on the job marks a shift in the direction of academic research and scholarship, one that is not unique to the interdisciplinary field of writing theory. Across the humanities, scholars have been increasingly concerned with the practices of everyday life, whether it be questions of how people orient themselves in urban spaces, how they construct themselves and their world in watching music videos, or how they are constructed by the institutional practices of mental hospitals or prisons. Like

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