Abstract and Opening

This essay is primarily about pedagogy, about how to use technology to extend progressive and transformative methods of teaching and learning. In particular it is about how writing technology can enable us to see writing in a social context, to see writing instruction as a tool for social engagement and change; this paper takes up Patricia Bizzell's challenge to "reconceive what we do as the teaching of rhetoric, not only composition." This project also attempts to apply Ira Shor's methods of inviting students to participate in meaningful discourses in the computer-based, composition classroom; I hope the project demonstrates not only the relevance of liberatory pedagogical practices for these courses but also the potential benefits for both students and the academy when students take part in the creation of new methods of understanding the world and new modes of writing.

Based on work at Queens College in the City University of New York (CUNY), the essay considers how to use computer technology currently available at a large, urban college to provide students with access to the discourses of power and the tools to transform those discourses, to reshape policies of exclusion into policies of inclusion through contextualized, content-based writing activities. I see this project as a combination of a writing pedagogy informed by recent scholarship in computers and writing and in the renewed emphasis on the social contexts of writing in composition studies. For me, this process involves inviting students at all levels to take part in research about writing, to consider and critique how and why texts are produced and the media through which they are distributed.