Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rhet/Comp and the information economy

It's odd, isn't it, that rhet/comp as a scholarly field has had so little to say about the broad topic of what is variously called the information or knowledge economy? Insofar as "we" teach writing, literacy, rhetoric, we certainly participate in the circulation of information, but it's so seldom that scholarship in the field critically connects what happens in the classroom with these larger contexts and implications. I suppose in part I'm really just repeating what Collin and Jeff were saying back in April, but what prompts this observation today is a little cruising I was doing over on this site. University of California Santa Barbara is hosting a conference called "Transliteracies: Research in the Technological, Social, and Cultural Practices of Online Reading," and speakers will include folks like Alan Liu, Katherine Hayles, and Christopher Newfield (whose important if limited book on management and the research university I've recently finished). "Transliteracies." Doesn't that *sound* like something rhet/comp should be involved with? One could blame the hosts (UCSB, like all UC schools, seems to have a pretty rigid division between "English literature" and "Writing"). But the more interesting question, it seems to me, is the question Collin more or less asked back in April: why is it that rhet/comp isn't doing scholarship that attracts the attention of people like this?

Now, it isn't as if I've been doing anything like scholarship that would potentially attract the attention of, say, Katherine Hayles. But I'm realizing more and more how my own scholarship in the managerial needs scholarship on the information economy and new media and how these folks at UCSB seem to have already noticed that (well, pretty obvious) connection. Alan Liu, in particular, seems to be behind a lot of this work: see, for instance, his Palinarus website that collects information on the academy and corporatization.

All in all, this entry is really a note to myself on how I might go about rounding out my book manuscript.


jeff said...

In that case, you might want to look at Liu's Laws of Cool book. It's a critique of the information economy, while summarizing and explaining some of its features. I disagree with his premise that cool is anti-knowledge work (and I disagree with his understanding of cool), but he is interested in the managerial issues you are as well.

Mike @ Vitia said...

Have you seen this CFP?

Mike @ Vitia said...

One other thing: I wonder if, in your scholarship on the managerial, you're running into the difficulty that much of the literature on management comes from a neoclassical economic perspective, whereas the critique you're performing (it seems to me) comes from a much more solidly Marxist economic perspective. It seems to me that -- aside from Trimbur and Horner -- even the folks in Rhet/Comp who are doing Marx are actually doing Marx bounded by the assumptions of neoclassical economics.

Donna said...

Yeah, Jeff, I thought I remembered you talking about the Liu book on your blog and looked around for it a bit, though I didn't look hard enough and ended up not finding it.

Thanks for the CFP, Mike. I don't know if I'll submit, but I will certainly want to keep an eye out for that issue when it comes out. And when you ask if I'm finding that the literature on management comes from a neoclassical economic perspective, do you mean scholarship done by management scholars themselves? That's certainly neoclassical, with the possible exception of Critical Management Theory, which strains to get beyond the neoclassical, but sometimes doesn't quite get there. It's an interesting project, though. Or do you mean humanities folks who look at the managerial? That sometimes gets more complicated, with a critical vocabulary that sometimes draws from Marxism but that often ultimately folds back into the neoclassical. And I agree with your assessment of rhet/comp and the difficulty in getting beyond the commonplace neoclassical assumptions there. I'll be interested in reading more about your own assessment of the economic in rhet/comp in your diss.