Coming to Multi-Genre Research

Spring 2005, NC State University, Post-Human Rhetoric

When I examine my past in an attempt to locate the kernel of experience that evolved into my interest in spatial theories and praxes today, I’m brought back to the final semester of my MA studies at North Carolina State University, to a seminar in post-human rhetoric. My readings of Paul Virilio (1997), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1983), Jean Baudrillard (1994), and Donna Haraway (1991) began to spark my interest in how technologies affect the ways students learn, compose, and publish their writing. For the seminar paper in that course, I made the argument that students are increasingly becoming like the cyborgs Donna Haraway wrote about, and I explored how compositionists might reconceptualize writing instruction to meet the needs of this changing student population. Drawing on Jeff Rice’s (2002) early work on cool writing and sampling, I advocated for the use of nontraditional research projects in first-year composition, specifically advocating for multi-genre research. Excerpts from this seminar paper—an archival document that helps reconstruct a journey, the essence of my path—can be found here.

At first glance, the seminar paper may seem to have little connection to the concepts of space and place I embrace in my current scholarly interests. However, my initial engagement with Haraway’s work on cyborgs led to a future interest in Haraway’s (1992) "The Promises of Monsters," a work much more grounded in mapping and place. Similarly, though I did not reference his work in my seminar paper, I read Paul Virilio’s (1997) Open Sky for the first time during the post-human rhetoric course, and I have since revisited Virilio's work, including my use of it to construct and remember a journey in the present work. When I reflect on my first experiences with the ideas of Haraway and Deleuze and Guattari, I am reminded of how radical they seemed to me at the time and how much my understanding of those concepts changed when I began teaching my version of a multi-genre research assignment. After graduation from North Carolina State University, I began teaching first-year composition full time, and I designed a course project that involved multi-genre research. Teaching multi-genre research gave me an opportunity to apply the ideas I had first encountered in the texts I read for my seminar paper. Finally, with hindsight, I can now trace a path that reflects on how my experiences in a Spatial and Visual Rhetorics seminar and the corresponding SVR2 event offered occasions on which to revisit my earlier ideas about multi-genre research.