Panel Discussion: Lifting the Veil

Lifting the Veil: Interrogating Coded Relationships of Power in Texts of Professional and Technical Writing

This panel interrogates relationships of power that are often hidden from view. In technical communication, certain relationships evade easy examination. Independently and as a group,  our research reveals that things– especially in the fields of technical communication and in the larger discourse known as professional writing– are not as they seem. This panel attempts to better understand what lies beneath the surface level of our primary texts to wrest an interconnectivity to surrounding mutable texts that is not necessarily apparent.

Aaron Dawson looks at the connections between professional writing programs and the universities that house those programs, specifically the rhetoric of their mission statements. Often, we consider questions about these separately: What is the role of the university? What is professional writing? Dawson will examine at how the two elements engage with one another in both land-grant and non-land-grant universities.

Next, William Deaton investigates how genres become assimilated to the technical communications canon. Deaton describes recipes on as a type of procedural rhetoric that is ripe for study within the field of technical communication. He then speculates why that genre is not accepted within the field, arguing for a reassessment of the generic conventions of instructions and recipes.

Finally, Jay Kirby looks at relationships between economic conditions and technical communication pedagogy. The relationship between technical communication and business has seen much attention. However, these studies frequently focus on single jobs or single businesses. Kirby attempts to show lines of interaction between prevailing teaching theories and overall economic conditions and asks, which is affecting the other?

In laying bare the hidden connections between these elements, we hope to open up new lines of inquiry into the field.

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