Prof Writing and Rhetoric

Subject: Prof Writing and Rhetoric
From: Christopher Werry <cw7r+ -at- ANDREW -dot- CMU -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 10:58:29 -0500


I have a question I hope someone on the list might be able to help
with. I am looking at how professional writing is/has influenced the
disciplinary shape and development of rhetoric. Now I realize this
may seem an odd way of approaching things since it is often assumed
that the direction of influence is more the other way
(in very crude terms, rhetoric providing an important source
of theory and a research base for tech writing, as well as helping
achieve disciplinary 'legitimacy'.) However I am trying to figure
out areas where professional writing (broadly defined) may be
affecting rhetoric. I'd be especially interested in hearing
from people who work in
both rhetoric and professional writing - can you think of ways that
your work in professional writing inflects your work in rhetoric?

Some areas I have considered looking into are:

- Is work on computers and writing shaped at all by the needs and
concerns of the technical writing community?

-is there significant funding for research in professional or technical
writing which might lead rhetoric scholars to orient their
work around certain tech writing concerns?

- a number of pretty high powered grad programs offer courses in
some mix of rhetoric and professional writing (for example I believe
Minnesota offers 'Rhetoric and Science and Technical Communication',
while Iowa State has a program in 'Rhetoric and Professional
Communication'). Does a dual focus influence the rhetoric
curricula, pushing it toward courses that integrate material and
provide theory that is oriented around professional writing concerns?

- Is work in visual rhetoric at all driven or inflected by the
growing importance of visual information in professional/tech writing?

- Do some strands of research into collaborative writing
derive impetus from professional writing, and in particular
the growth of collaborative writing practices and software
in industry (eg Lotus Notes etc.)

Any ideas or leads at all would be very gratefully received.


C Werry
Carnegie Mellon University

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