Digital Media and The Transactional Theory

One of the threads that I noticed running through each of the readings this week was the emphasis on teaching students “habits of mind” (Jenkins) or “habits of thought” (Clark). The Lessig TED Talk further noted the importance of emphasizing creativity, a characteristic/action listed in Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing as a significant habit for students to practice or be mindful of. One argument for teaching habits, rather than skills, is that values within the field of composition or in the discourse of technology/digital literacy are constantly changing or evolving. Fostering habits allows students to gain access to knowledge or practices that are transferable to other discourses or disciplines.

However, this was not what I was most interested in. Some of the rhetoric used in these readings, mostly in Lawrence Lessig’s TED Talk, reminded me of Louise Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory , covered in English 715 (theories in postsecondary reading education). This theory suggests that reading and writing are not just “interactions” – to Rosenblatt, this term implies that there is only a give and take (one consumes, stops, and then creates, and stops…etc.).


This “stop,” she argues, is unrealistic. More accurately, she suggests that consuming and creating are simultaneous “transactions” that happen all the time, at the same time, without end. This relationship is a continuous cycle with infinite intersections.


When Lessig discussed the nature of the revived “read-write” culture and the relationship between the “consumer” and “creator,” I immediately remembered the “Transactional Theory.” For some reason, this helped illustrate the ways in which students, or people in general, engage with technology.

Rosenblatt’s text was read to inform our understanding of integrated reading and writing (IRW) courses. I’m wondering if I can make more connections between approaches or practices associated with digital media with IRW approaches or practices – not just surface-level connections like similar activities or assignments used in each curriculum, but I want to analyze each discourses’ values and ideology. I think that new media and technology can definitely be used in IRW classes, but I want to consider why these things seem to fit so well together.

I think this post got a little drafty towards the end…it sounds like I’m about to start writing a damn essay. However, I thought the connections between IRW concepts and new media/digital media ideas were interesting, and hopefully you’ll find it interesting too.

P.S. If you loved the singing Jesus video in the TED Talk as much as I did, please click on the cat: =^..^= ~


2 comments on “Digital Media and The Transactional Theory

  1. I want to partially respond to the “drafty” inquiry towards the end of your post.

    I think the reason that we see New Media fitting so well together with many of our IRW goals is because many New Media texts are inherently intertextual. I think that if you couple that with the fact that there is the possibility of instant social and cultural communication, New Media could perhaps be the embodiment of the Transactional Theory a la Rosenblatt. I also feel that if the field of Composition shifts even more towards seeing Social Media, video, audio, and the like as valid forms of text to be “read” and to “write about,” then the New Media we have been discussing in class will easily fit into IRW classrooms.

    For example, when you think of reading informing writing (and vice versa), I get really excited by things like podcasts. Essentially, you take a compilation of texts and then create your own (podcast) text from them. Following the release of a podcast, we often see written responses to the content and delivery within that audio text (which I read as a general rhetorical analysis).

    I get excited for moments like this because the expectations that students bring alongside New Media genres fall in line with our goals as IRW instructors – our role changes from getting students to create transactions between what they read and write to instead getting them to realize that these are habits of thought/mind that they already possess, and fostering those habits to grow even more. I think this affords us an opportunity as instructors to push student thinking out of the classroom, and affect more than just our Composition classroom. Along with this, students come in (knowingly or not) with prior knowledge, which gives us more freedom to “move” when we teach.

    Quite frankly, now I feel rambly, so I’ll wrap it up. But I think there’s a lot o say about ideological similarities between IRW goals and New Media scholarship. Hope everything made sense.

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