24
Oct
08

Warnick’s Critical Literacy in a Digital Era

Barbara Warnick
Critical Literacy in a Digital Era: Technology, Rhetoric, and the Public Interest
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

• How persuasive discourse about technology affects how we think about it
• If reading viewing, and browsing publics unquestioningly buy into predicting and ideologies in media discourse, then the beliefs embedded in it won’t be subject to public discussion and critical examination
• Critical literacy: communicating about communication
• Aural/Oral: incorporate specific abilities and competencies
• Rhetorical Criticism: concerned with how the messages are designed for audiences and how they are intended to have an effect
o How message content can contribute/detract from credibility
o How communities of interest are constructed through shared values and ways of speaking
• Selfe: technology + democracy (+capitalism) = progress
o Bolter and Grusin: “That digital media can reform and even save society reminds us of the promise that has been made for technologies throughout much of the twentieth century: it is a peculiarly, if not exclusively, American promise. American culture seems to believe in technology in a way that European culture, for example, may not… In America…collective (and perhaps even personal) salvation has been thought to come through technology rather than through political or even religious action” (60-1).
• Transparency: user forgets/is unaware of the presence of the medium
• WIRED: Technological hierarchy
o Should instead open discussion to all voices
• Need for a counter-narrative
4: “Burke noted that the ‘hierarchic principle’—the desire to transcend one’s present condition and move upward in the social hierarchy—is ‘inevitable in systematic thought.’ The promise of nearly unlimited technological advancement implies the potential for continuous self- and social improvement and upward mobility.”
15: “The New London Group defined critical framing (an important component of critical literacy) as the ability of audiences and readers to ‘gain the necessary personal and theoretical distance from what they have learned, constructively critique it, account for its cultural location, [and] creatively extend and apply it…within old communities and in new ones.”
43: “The devalued numerators [have-nots/suddenly wealthy; not at risk/at risk] of these value pairs are prototypically descriptive of technological have-nots, Luddites, women, minorities, and other groups who do not make up Wired’s readership. Wired’s marginalization of these groups becomes clear through these absences. Because dissociations expose the devalued poles that serve as foils to what is explicitly advocated, they are useful in revealing what is systematically excluded or marginalized in a text.”
119: “[Parody sites] bound themselves together through reciprocal links, intertextuality, use of coined terms, and lateral cross-references shared among sites. As a group, they constituted a discourse ‘community,’ but it was more an enclave of like-minded exchangers deriving pleasure from their positions as being ‘in the know’ about candidates’ past gaffes and misstatements.”

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