[via @trauman] The first half of this book focuses on the co-evolution of the physical/material form of the book (from tablet to scroll to codex) and[via @trauman] The first half of this book focuses on the co-evolution of the physical/material form of the book (from tablet to scroll to codex) and the way Western culture has fostered access to this form. They evolve in tandem. Really informative. Very clearly written. Should be great resource for my dissertation: shows how objects must evolve in conversation/tandem with their cultural/material contexts. Really expands the notion of what sorts of things might be considered "book technologies."
The second half of the book is also really interesting in that it shows how the architectural design of libraries has been almost entirely dependent on two factors: the value of individual manuscripts housed in the building (pre-printing press / post-printing press) and the availability of suitable reading light (sunlight/candle/incandescent/etc.)...more
A great book. The first couple of chapters are maybe the most clearly explained overview historical composition theory that I've read.
But the primaryA great book. The first couple of chapters are maybe the most clearly explained overview historical composition theory that I've read.
But the primary argument for the book, I think, is that a-contextual invention heuristics for writing are problematic for several reasons. Most traditional invention heuristics rely on certain binaries for understanding communication and information: subject/object, dominant/marginal, differentials of power, etc.
Hawk, relying on ecological and complexity theory, argues for a context specific approach to developing invention heuristics. Sort of a heuristics for heuristics, but that characterization is a little tongue-in-cheek.
One of my favorite aspects of Hawk's approach is that he resists leaving his argument as merely a theoretical rereading of composition theory and pedagogies. Instead, he offers readings of specific pedagogues in our field (Ulmer, Atwill, Hayles, Haynes, Henry, Coles) in terms of how they rely on ecological/complexity theory as a way of structuring invention heuristics.
Overall, an incredibly smart reflection on the history of comp theory, both generous and challenging. And at the same time, a prose style that is as clear as his argument is complex.
My only reservation is that some of Hawk's suggestions will be difficult to argue for in the current political climate of public academic institutions. I'm talking about institutional impulses toward accountability, consistency, measurable progress across various times and sections of composition. These are all completely valid concerns, and most of which I'm pretty supportive. Hawk calls for heuristics emerging from localized (read: individual) instructor's and students negotiation of their own perceptions of the intersections of various threads of material and theoretical influence in their given time and given place. And I'm just not sure how a WPA might convince a Dean or Provost that there are valid methods of evalation for these sorts of approaches.
But Hawk is a very, very smart pedagogue. And I'm guessing that the answers might still be in the book. I could certainly stand another reading (or three). And at the moment, I'll assume that Hawk offers some content that might address these issues. I wonder, though, if this is one of those situations where questions of evaluations have to emerge from the best pedagogical approaches we can conceptualize, rather than pedagogy built toward a system of evaluation.
I suppose that one extension of this argument might lie somewhere in arguments against a contextual assessment models. And now I'm getting into territory with which I'm pretty unfamiliar. For all I know, there are already conversations taking place in assessment scholarship which address these sorts of concerns already....more
If you're a fan of high school, college, or NFL football, this book is a great read. If you're interested in discussions of class economics or discourIf you're a fan of high school, college, or NFL football, this book is a great read. If you're interested in discussions of class economics or discourses on race, this book is a great read. Or if you just want to read a book that will make you laugh, challenge you, and sometimes make you questions of the motives of the protagonists, this book is a great read.
The only hesitation I have about the book is that I think it purports to be about Michael Oher, the high school and college phenom left tackle. In a lot of ways it is, but only to the extent that Lewis wanted to tell Oher's story. On the other hand, however, what Lewis is really exploring in this book is why and how a rich, white couple (Sean and Leigh Ann Tuoy) from one of the most segregated cities in America (Memphis) would become invested in young black kid who is ironically simultaneously almost impossible to notice and impossible to ignore.
In some ways, I think Lewis is interested in the Tuoys' investment in Michael as a person as is contrasted against the system's (Briarcrest High School Athletics Dept, Ole Miss University, and every other major college football program in the country, and the NFL). Everybody seems to want something from him, and that thing is immediately apparent and almost assured. But the Tuoy's were invested in him long before they realized just how good a player he was. In that sense, his incredible success seems to make their investment both charming and sincere.
Tough to admit (and Lewis doesn't address this at all, really) that I wouldn't have been interested in reading about the Tuoy's charity or Oher's luck had it not been for his incredible physical gifts. Maybe that's the real lesson of the book....more
so far... although the book is trying (a little too hard, I think) to engage some really smart ideas (Mike Rose, Pirsig, etc), it too-often drifts intso far... although the book is trying (a little too hard, I think) to engage some really smart ideas (Mike Rose, Pirsig, etc), it too-often drifts into the too-personal. I love that sort of writing. Don't get me wrong. But you can't be conversation and highly personal, and then try to draw historical conclusions and social commentary from them. Can't have it both ways. I mean, this is what we all do in our own heads everyday, right? But it just doesn't hold up the way Rose, Pirsig, Yanagi, Pye, McCollough do.
I'm only a chapter and a half in. Maybe he's working by accretion. Maybe he's just clearing his throat or positioning himself with this self-reflection. I don't know. He's a very, very good writer. A beautiful prose style. Compelling perception. Values in common with me. But given the way the book's been marketed (author=PHD in Philosophy; used to work at a DC thinktank, now runs a bike shop), I was sort of expecting a philosopher's understanding of Orange County Choppers. Instead, what I'm getting so far is: I'm a really smart guy (he is, and he doesn't come across as arrogant), but I didn't find intellectual labor rewarding. So I opened a shop, and now that I can see/smell/feel the immediate fruits of my labor, I feel more fulfilled. Okay, that's great. It's tough to find a way to be happy in this world. Trust me. I know. But so far, I still think he's romanticizing it. His preference for working with his hands is due as much to his impatience to know that his work has mattered to himself and someone else as it is to the intellectual satisfaction (of which he, like Mike Rose) writes convincingly). So, I'm enjoying the book, despite it not being what I hoped....more
So far, the most important things I've gleaned from this book has been an incredibly clear and nuanced system of terminology for thinking about "desigSo far, the most important things I've gleaned from this book has been an incredibly clear and nuanced system of terminology for thinking about "design" and "workmanship." Amazing that this has been around for 40 years, and I've never really heard it referenced. Something tells me that, although it feels seminal, there might be some more important precedent or antecedent texts with similar or more important versions of this perspective. However, until I can confirm that suspicion, I'll think this book is groudbreaking and essential to my subsequent discussions of "work" in terms of digital textual production (i.e. web-design, digital stories, video blog entries)...more