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Call for Papers: Special Issue of Technical Communication Quarterly
Posthuman Rhetorics and Technical Communication
Editors: Andrew Mara and Byron Hawk
According to N. Katherine Hayles, we have always been posthuman. Ever since
the first social organization, the first use of fire, and the first
development of language, humans have lived in and with systems. Even before
its emergence as an academic field, professional and technical writers had
been writing and living in organizational systems. Even when the profession
is imagined as an isolated endeavor or end-of-the-process set of tasks,
technical writers still must operate in larger, complex rhetorical
situations. Many theorists have been trying to come to grips with this kind
of situatedness from Michel Foucault's attempts to develop an archeological
method to understand the human sciences to Bruno Latour's development of
actor-network-theory to understand science's place within a complex social
order. Professional and technical communication's emergence as a discipline
has been marked by similar attempts to identify and articulate these
systems perspectives. From Carolyn Miller's "Genre as Social Action" to
Clay Spinuzzi's Tracing Genres through Organizations, the field has been
trying to come to grips with the complex, and increasingly automated,
systems a writer, text, and reader encounter, affect, and live in.

This special issue of TCQ looks to extend the position that professional
and technical communication has always been posthuman. By acknowledging it
as such, we hope to open more possibilities for thinking about rhetorical
action in organizational, institutional, and technological contexts. As
organizations become more complex, technologies more pervasive, and
rhetorical intent more diverse, technical communicators need to develop
multiple approaches to mapping and acting within these complex rhetorical
situations. Philosophical, ethnographic, technological, or qualitative
methods can all contribute to a larger understanding of the ways documents,
technologies, and human actions affect and are affected by these larger
distributed environments. Articulation theory in cultural studies,
actor-network-theory in the sociology of science, GPS or data visualization
in technical communication, and organizational theories in management are
all posthuman rhetorics that enhance our understanding of the social,
technological, business, and academic contexts in which writers think and

The editors of this special issue TCQ invite article-length studies that
theorize and demonstrate connections between a variety of these posthuman
perspectives and the kinds of rhetorical problems that are central to
professional and technical communication:
• developing and negotiating workplace identities,
• mapping organizational situatedness,
• navigating human-computer interaction,
• deploying new media in workplace contexts,
• understanding the multiple affects of texts,
• transitioning among complex contexts,
• affecting change in organizational cultures.
In addition to full-length articles that develop new theories and present
new data, we are interested in short micro-ethnographies, articulations, or
descriptions from a variety of methodological traditions that situate
professional and technical writers in complex contexts and model how to
respond rhetorically to those contexts.
Submissions can address the philosophical, workplace, or pedagogical
dimensions of posthuman changes in technical communication's scholarly
approaches. Methods may be quantitative, qualitative, or some combination
of both and explore professional, academic, or hybrid concerns.
Send inquiries, proposals, or completed manuscripts as .rtf or .doc
attachments to the guest editors:
Andrew Mara ( or Byron Hawk ( Proposals
are due by July 17, 2008. For accepted proposals, first-draft manuscripts
will be due September 25, 2008, and finished manuscripts March 12, 2009,
for publication in Winter 2010. Please contact us as soon as possible if
you would like to serve as a reviewer for this issue.

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Received on Thu May 15 2008 - 17:00:42 EDT