A Scyborg Composition Course

José Luis Cano Jr.

Reassembling Technologies

Figure out how technologies operate. Use a wrench. Technologies can be disrupted and reorganized—at least for a machine cycle. Rather than thinking of ourselves as just subjects of those technologies, think about how we are the drones, the explosives, the toxified, the operative parts of those technologies—and ideally, how we might operate on ourselves and other technologies and turn these gears into decolonizing operations.
— la paperson, A Third University Is Possible

Figuring Out Technologies

Let me take you back to the community college in Brownsville, Texas. When I received the document requesting that I fill in what percentage of students met each learning outcome, I could see every other instructor's own self-reported data. The learning outcome addressing edited American English consistently ranked as the lowest category for students—that's odd. My students seemed fine in this area, but that meant my assessment data stood as an outlier. That shit gave me insecurity about my instructional approach. Did I fail to teach and assess appropriately? I hadn't quite figured out technologies.

Here's how I figured out technologies later. I researched this everlooming "accreditation" and how data works. I learned about the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and its influence in the Texas public post-secondary realm. The THECB usually asks for numbers to gauge an institution. I also found a component that partially explains why they use the same learning outcomes across institutions. According to the THECB (2021), "The Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual (ACGM) is the official list of approved courses for general academic transfer to public universities for state funding by public community, state, and technical colleges in Texas" (p. 5). In addition, I informed myself on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), an accrediting entity for Texas and ten other states. This entity uses quantitative data, but it requires narrative construction to situate this material. Learning about these entities and their mechanisms contextualized my instructional practice because I identified and understood an assemblage of technologies at play.

Furthermore, I focused on the idea that the course descriptions and learning outcomes don't specify how many times they require assessment, so I worked under the assumption that I only needed to assess each learning outcome once. Therefore, I strategically included and excluded learning outcomes throughout assignments, permitting me to create assignments suitable for the students in this particular community. For instance, in an assignment, I emphasized writing "in a style appropriate to audience and purpose" while excluding "Edited American English" to assess whether students fulfilled their task of composing material for a potentially Spanish-engaging audience in the community. By thinking about the course in this manner, I felt comfortable enacting my own instructional approach and assessment of learning outcomes that moved away from WME.

Reassembling Technologies

The technology of the learning outcome directs comp instruction at departmental and institutional levels. I urge rhet–comp scholars to consider how these learning outcomes fail to address the linguistic realities of racialized folks. If you could write learning outcomes for comp courses that account for these realities, what would these learning outcomes look like? What assemblage(s) of technologies would impede, facilitate, and complicate their implementation?

I chose a digital map to reassemble technologies to suit my circumstances. The digital map as a technology has the potential to reinscribe relationships. Rhet–comp can use the digital map to reassemble technologies that speculate on the future of the languages/dialects of racialized students, reconfigure imaginative relationships between language-land-comp, and share innovative instructional practice beyond WME. I pay heed to Ralph Cintron's (1997) comment: "the processes of mapping and texting contain, as part of their beings, the desire to conquer and colonize" (p. 35). Maps foster a sense of control over land at the cost of reducing complexity and colonizing a space. However, these digital maps—I argue—can give rhet–comp scholars, at least, that one machine cycle. These digital maps can identify or create assemblages that counteract the colonizing operations enacted in comp courses and post-secondary institutions. To clarify, I don't believe this webtext presents a decolonizing operation.10 It does, however, reassemble technologies to offer generative relationships between language, land, and comp instruction. In so doing, this reassemblage of technologies directly combats white supremacy. But even these combative technologies eventually turn to junk, and new assemblages must rise.