Regan, “Type Normal Like the Rest of Us”

Regan, Alison. "’Type Normal Like the Rest of Us’: Writing, Power, and Homophobia in the Networked Composition Classroom." Computers and Composition 9.4
(Nov 1993): 11-23. <>

Regan accounts for her own move away from traditional interaction toward networked classrooms in the late 1980s and early 1990s, noting that she looked forward to using LANs for discussion. She also acknowledges apprehensions she felt and she call into question the promise of social equality online.

What are the types of exclusion manifesting in these presumably inviting, inclusive, and egalitarian spaces? Regan explores this question, particularly where homophobic views are expressed by students in one online interchange when, while, she explains, they were “on-task.”

The article touches on points about silencing (how silencing works differently between conventional classroom discussions and LAN-based chats), and how the synchronous discussion platform lengthens the life of the utterances relative to ordinary in-class discussion. Regan acknowledges the work done by others, such as Kremers, on “wilding” and the perils of off-task conversations, but she is more concerned with on-task discussion and the ways exclusionary discourse is a part of it.

Accounting for a scenario involving homophobic language and another situation in which she left the room only to have a student use her terminal and screen name to tell the class to “type normal like the rest of us,” Regan concludes that vestiges of authority will linger do matter how much we attempt to divest ourselves of it in the “liberatory” medium of the LAN interchange.

“I am not suggesting that we should shut down discussions of lesbian and gay issues because they might make us or our students uncomfortable. It is important, however, that we be aware of the possible consequences of those discussions, and it may be important that we take an active role in framing those discussions. The very way that homosexuality is introduced into the rhetoric and composition curriculum is problematic. Because I am particularly interested in computer-mediated classroom discussion, I have focused on these instances of student expressions of homophobia, rather than examining instances of institutional homophobia.”

“This exhortation serves as a reminder of two important points: first, even the instructor who shares authority remains identified with institutional power, and second, any person who is “different” disturbs the classroom environment. The command to “type normal” is nothing less than a command to be normal; John’s remarks were never unreadable, they simply did not conform to the standards maintained by his classmates and instructor.

Thus, even within a space where expression appears most free, institutional and social forms of authority remain.”