In the preface to Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag writes that “…the healthiest way of being ill–is one most purified of, most resistant to metaphoric thinking.” The sexiness of new media speak and the metonymy we use to describe the importance of the change these media represent can leave us with a very sophisticated and inspired way of losing what we mean when we talk about new literacy. I’m not trying to poke holes in the print and digital texts by Wysocki, Miller and Yancey from this week’s (I want to say “readings” but perhaps we will need a more precise term for the homework we view/listen to/read/interact with/materialize each week as–if these authors are correct–teachers of adult literacy, we will be asking our students to interact with more than text on a weekly basis) assignments. But I do feel the need to cut through some of the metaphors and approximations about what this could change in the classrooms or English Departments in order to get at what I think they are telling me has changed as a result of new media, network technologies.
Argument is at the heart of our work in composition. How to discover and expose a line of reasoning, the construction of an idea, or the interpretation of a fact or artifact in order to make the world make sense is pretty much what i think were doing when we teach nonfiction writing (though i’m sure i’m missing something in that characterization). Speaking of the multiple media options available to users of the Internet, Richard Miller reminds us, “This is a way to push ideas into our culture. Why wouldn’t we be at the front edge of that?” While I know that our task is not to summarize or revisit the “readings” in these blogs, I still need to do a little distilling for myself: The argument that i think is being made in these readings and these classes is that we have a responsibility-to make available all of the tools in the Universe(ity) that will help our students (and ourselves) make effective, culturally relevant arguments.