Jeff. "Networks and New Media." College English 69.2 (Nov. 2006):
contribution to the College English symposium on "What Should College English
Be?", Rice answers "new media" and, more precisely, the aspect of
connective, associative phenomenon proliferating throughout the digital,
informational orders. "College English has not yet imagined or perceived
itself as a network," (128), Rice writes, and while the ways "networks alter
current understandings and rhetorical output still need unpacking and further
study" (132), we might begin by with Hayles’ suggestion of linking as an
emerging form of expression or Burroughs’ anticipation of "the rise of the
network as rhetoric" (130), as we "reimagine English studies’ efforts to
generate a twenty-first century focus" (130). In the collection of essays
titled Composition in the Twenty-first Century, David Bartholomae,
suggests a focus involving composition’s focus on "the space on the page and
what it might mean to do work there and not somewhere else" (130). Rice
emphasizes Bartholomae’s differentiation between the page and the "not
somewhere else," suggesting that, in fact, new media and networks compel us
toward the somewhere else, the open space constructed out of connections
where multiple writers engaging within multiple ideas in multiple media at
multiple moments function" (130). In the "complicated act" that is
"writing as network" (131), "’writing’ feels too limited", its connotations of
"fixity" burden the metaphor "in an age of total information and delivery"
(129). Drawing on Hayles and Lyotard, Rice examines the paradox between "established
knowledge" that is the prototypical concern of English Studies and the "momentary
configurations" of networks and the texts that circulate across them.
Developing a strong case for new media and networks as a new focus for
college English, Rice acknowledges precedents in "intertextuality, the
avant-garde, or Bahktinian dialogue" (130), but these concepts have
not theorized networks adequately, particularly in light of the Web. Rice’s
response to "What Should College English Be?" fans out, as well, through a
succession of answers, one of which is that "College English should be the
intersection of the various areas of discourse that shape thought and
produce knowledge" (132).
"Or it may involve a complete reworking of how information is classified and
stored, as the emerging practice of folksonomy, a system where anyone can attach
any term to any piece of information, does in a direct challenge to referential
organizational systems" (128).
"Whether for good or for bad, the network is reimagining social and
informational relationships so profoundly that even if the discipline of English
Studies remains wary of the network and suspicious of its place within the
curriculum, the field can still benefit from learning how networks alter both
understandings of writing and writing itself" (129).
"By social, I do not mean ‘people,’ ‘friendliness,’ or ‘mingling.’ Instead, I
mean the ways bodies of information socialize, the ways they interact,
or, as Burroughs wrote, the ways they associate" (131).
Terms: established knowledge (131), momentary configurations (131),
emergence/growth (132), folksonomy (128), connectivity (128).
What is at the junction between Rice’s call (new media/networks) and
(variegated reading and productive attentiveness)?