Slack, Jennifer Daryl, David James Miller and Jeffrey Doak. “The Technical Communicator as Author: Meaning, Power, Authority.” Eds. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 160-74

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Summary: Drawing on Foucault’s discussion of authorship to highlight the ways technical writers are denied authorship, which points to the undervaluing of technical communication as discourse. The authors look to contemporary work on communication theory (specifically, communication as transmission, translation, and articulation) to map the power dynamics implicit in each view of communication as well as the position the technical writer occupies in each view. They argue that viewing communication as articulation helps us understand the technical communicator as an equal meaning-making agent who shares in the articulation of power relations. Asserting the authorship of technical communicators can help emphasize this view.

Notes:

  • In communication as transmission, the tech writer acts as a transparent vehicle in the transfer of knowledge. In comm as translation, meaning (and power) are negotiated between communicator and reader, a dynamic the tech writer negotiates. In comm as articulation, meaning is constituted through a power struggle in which the tech writer also participates.
  • In communication as articulation, all identities are non-necessary and determine the particular shape of the articulation.

Quotable Quotes:

“The articulation view allows us to move beyond a conception of communication as the polar contributions of sender and receiver to a conception of an ongoing precess of articulation constituted in (and constituting) the relations of meaning an dpower operating in the entire context with which messages move.” (169)


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