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Hyper text MindMap Update

Maury Brown's MindMap for Theories of Network

Updates to Mindmap, 3/2/14. To see the full MindMap, click here:

This week I added a few nodes for Hypertext theory (saving all of LaTour for next week). I focused on the attributes of Hypertext: temporary narratives called together by the interaction of user and media; a conflation of reader/writer; a bringing together of items under the agency of a reader/writer/user who has an exigence and will make rhetorical choices about how to navigate through the given content (genres?)

My MindMap itself is a good example of hypertext in that it moves across two-dimensional plane of the map as a visualization of the ideas I have had as a reader/writer, mapped over time and space, within the limits of the interface, and presented through it. You, as reader/writer, can visit my map and move through it at your discretion and order, choosing to click on links given to other sites or multimedia items as you like. Not everyone will interact with the text the same way, and that is simultaneously powerful and frightening, as the author/owner loses the ability to control how the information is presented and the reader/user may build new knowledge that is alternately or simultaneously empowering and disorienting. Conclusions drawn may be different from those intended and communication may break down. New ideas and innovations may be produced as well, leading to new texts.

I turned the Popples red like Foucault on my map, as both are thematically talking about unities/disunities; the coming together of words and participants to create something that then dissolves. Both also are talking about an archaeologist or curator who makes (rhetorical) decisions.

I also connected it to the Social Action node that I had added with Spinuzzi. Johnson-Eiola remarks that all decisions and texts are politically motivated and that the affordances and constraints of a given technology and utterance can be both empowering and disempowering simultaneously. Who benefits, how and why, and whether that should merely be noted or manipulated are all questions to ask. I also connect Hypertext to Biesecker, as I see it as playing out some of the same approaches to the rhetorical situation as she describes.

I do not connect it to genre theory at this time. I am not of the opinion that hypertext is a genre. I believe it is a medium to display genres and move among and between them.

Genres, Boundaries, and Away We Go_Mindmap


For this week’s update of the mindmap, I added in two nodes, “Genre” and “Genre Boundaries,” and from there added in four quotes by Miller, Popham, and Bazerman. From these four quotes, I started finding connections between the quotes I had chosen in earlier readings. My first choice was from that of Carolyn Miller’s “Genre as Social Action” in regards to a kind of “principle of selection”:

“Because a classification sorts items on the basis of some set of similarities, the principle used for selecting similarities can tell us much about classification. A classification of discourse will be rhetorically sound if it contributes to an understanding of how discourse works—that is, if it reflects the rhetorical experience of the people who create and interpret the discourse. As Northrop Frye remarks, ‘The study of genres has to be founded on the study of convention.’ A useful principle of classification for discourse, then, should have some basis in the conventions of rhetorical practice, including the ways actual rhetors and audiences have of comprehending the discourse they use” (Miller, “Genre as Social Action” 152)

This idea of “selecting similarities” reminds me of Foucault’s “principle of exclusion” in that choices have to be made, but explores how are those objects, ideas, threads of  thoughts chosen? Why are certain objects privileged over others? The choices that we make tend to follow some degree of sameness, even if the criteria are unspoken or loosely conveyed. I also connected this quote to the contention between Bitzer and Vatz’s articles with the idea of when a rhetorical situation occurs and how much responsibility is placed on the rhetor for deciding which situation was important enough to become a rhetorical situation. As well, this quote from Miller and a quote Bazerman’s “Speech Acts”–“The analytical approach of this chapter [Speech Acts, Genres, and Activity Systems: How Texts Organize Activity and People”] relies on a series of concepts: social facts, speech acts, genres, genre systems, and activity systems. These concepts suggest how people using text create new realities of meaning, relation, and knowledge” (309)– had me connecting with Vatz’s comment: ”If…you view meaning as a consequence of rhetorical creation, your paramount concern will be how and by whom symbols create the reality to which people react” (158). The three quotes connect in how they take a nod towards actual people using rhetoric in different discourses, not just theoretical approaches.

As I connected those thoughts together, I began to think about how the readings we had done previously were forming a foundation for the readings about genre that we have started doing now. It was helpful that Miller especially seemed to build her argument off of Bitzer, so that I could see how later scholars were moving older arguments forward with them. One such instance is when Miller builds upon Bitzer’s discussion of how “comparable situations occur, prompting comparable responses” pointed in the direction of “genre studies” without using the word “genre”—“Thus, inaugurals, eulogies, courtroom speeches, and the like have conventional forms because they arise in situations with similar structures and elements and because rhetors respond in similar ways, having learned from precedent what is appropriate and what effects their actions are likely to have on other people” (Miller, “Genre as Social Action” 153). The conversation between Miller’s text and Popham’s went a long way in helping me to understand the idea of genres in regards to rhetorical situations, especially in revealing to me just how wide the variety of rhetorical genres there can be (like medical forms) and how fluid the boundaries between the genres can be.

What really interested me, and is something I want to explore further in my mindmap if I can, is Popham’s inclusion of Foucault observation of the relationships between disciplines: “As Foucault (1975/1979) pointed out, relationships between disciplines are frequently characterized by competition, tension, and hierarchies. Although we often think of disciplines as coresiding peacefully across campuses, in which disciplinary experts agreeably respect and support each other, such a utopian picture obviously cannot be widespread. Moreover, if we accept the theory that disciplines experience tension in their relationships with each other, tensions that can be better understood by looking at the disciplines involved, we may begin to explain why certain tensions exist within our society” (Popham 279). What I find fascinating is that each discipline uses rhetoric and rhetorical genres that both differ widely and overlap, and yet the disciplines still have greater tension among them. Popham’s example of the medical forms as a “boundary genre,” or a text that acts as a kind of boderlands among the rhetoric of the three disciplines of business, science, and medicine was great because it showed a concrete example of how rhetoric plays out on a mundane level, which served as a contrast to me over Vatz’s rhetorical situation and the example of Winston Churchill.

As we are currently reading Clay Spinuzzi’s book Tracing Genres, I think having the nodes “Genre” and “Genre Boundary” are going to be very useful in mapping out the way later works tackle the concepts of genre and the use of rhetoric.

For Every Boundary, There Must Be Music: