What English majors can teach us?

Subject: What English majors can teach us?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 08:01:03 -0700

Steve Amidon is <<...wondering what it actually is that the English
major can offer the future technical writer, other than punching a
ticket that he needs punched on his college transcript. Since those
who teach technical writing at universities often have backgrounds in
rhetoric, composition, literature, critical theory, and cultural
studies, what can these disciplines bring to the technical writer?>>

I think all the things you've mentioned are valuable tools for a
technical writer, but then again, I'm of the opinion that no
opportunity to gain new knowledge is ever wasted. The broader you can
expand your horizons, the more creative and flexible you can be when
it comes to solving communications problems.

The biggest problem with "English major" stuff is that many of the
tools were designed for an entirely different genre of writing than
technical writing, and you need to understand the differences before
you can relearn how to apply those tools effectively. For example,
I've been using some of the tools of techwhirling for many years now
(e.g., audience analysis, information design) to improve my science
writing and editing, and it's been a tremendously interesting and
productive experience. Carrying this logic a bit further, one of my
pet projects (via STC's Science SIG) is to figure out how the century
or so of experience we have with rhetoric and design for refereed
scientific journals can be applied to technical communication. Stay

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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