Oh, Actor-Network-Theory. So, for this week’s update on the mindmap, I added more nodes in this batch than I have been with other batches recently. I wanted to make sure that I had a definition of sorts as to what ANT is and then to incorporate the other two writers we have been reading as examples of ANT at play, even though Johnson-Eilola’s articles were based in Hypertext Theory. I did this grouping of the authors because it made more sense to me as to why we had read them together and how they fit into the large map I have been creating all semester.
Once I had decided on how I was going to set up my nodes, I then had to consider how I was going to connect ANT outwards. End result: connections to Foucault, Rhetorical Activity, and CHAT. I chose Foucault without hesitation because, as I was reading Latour, I started making more sense of what I had read in Archaeology of Knowledge about how actors within systems are constantly moving, reshaping what we think of permanent by realizing that it is human activity keeping things going. Histories are compilations of people being active, in building societies, in defining and redefining the boundaries of their groups, and letting those groups merge and separate when the needs of the actors arises. We are all just actors in the frenzied motion of living and changing, and it is this thought which had me link Joyce’s statement that, “I would note that I am not in the business of predicting change. In fact I am not only not in any business at all but I also resent the current fashion that urges us each to claim that we are in a business. Instead like most of us, librarians or humanists or whatever, I live in change, living not a business but a presence. As an artist and teacher and technologist I make change and am changed by what others make” (“Lingering Errantness” 71). I also connected this to a quote about the goals of the creators for CHAT as they see activity concentrated in local interactions, which I see Joyce as embodying when he talks about how he makes change and is “changed by what others make.” It is not often that I remember how much like a web we are all part of, moving and being moved by the actions and statements of others.
The other examples of ANT that I added to my map were two quotes by Johnson-Eilola: “Writing has always been about borders, about the processes of mapping and remapping the lines of separation between things. Writing constructs implicit and explicit boundaries between not only product and process and said and unsaid, but author and reader, literacy and orality, technology and nature, self and other. Although we often build these borders in order to help us assert a disciplinary identity, these same borders also threaten to marginalize us” (“Border Times” 3) and “This narrow focus [traditional five page papers] was helpful historically for composition in defining itself against a range of other disciplines and academic departments; today, however, we must expand our definitions to gain broader influence and relevance. The focus on redefining composition motivates the selection of hypertext as the topic of my study” (“Border Times” 7). I connected the first quote about writing creating boundaries and also marginalizing us to boundary genres and directly to Latour’s comment about groups forming and reforming because Johnson-Eilola’s quote gave me insight into how writing and the process of writing are a major component in how genres can be shaped and reshaped, which, in turn, seem to form how we operate within and view our roles in society. It also reminds me of Foucault’s comment about history and how history is not some grand overarching narrative but a series of interruptions and disruptions. Human activity is what composes those interruptions. So often it seems like we think of history guiding people’s actions, especially when history “repeats itself,” that we forget that it is human choice that determines the course of how lives are lead, civilizations are built and destroyed, and how our technology is put to use. I connected the second quote about the formulaic structure of the composition essay to CHAT as it seemed to exemplify why a remapping of the rhetorical canon was necessary, but in an academic setting. With the “traditional” composition essay, it seems as if the structure was configured to apply concrete boundaries on how rhetoric was employed by students, without allowing for a bleeding over of styles from other disciplines, which is no longer satisfying. Rhetoric is no longer to be seen only as functional in the classical sense. It filters through all of our human activities, and the remapping (though CHAT creators seem to have faltered before completely describing and implementing their new system) allows for a bit more freedom for spaces like the composition classroom to fully engage new technologies and use them to more fluidly overcome disciplinary and genre boundaries.
In Which Music Makes Everything More Connected: