An ethic of action: Specific feminism, service learning, and technical communication
AuthorBowdon, Melody Anne
AdvisorMiller, Thomas P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation contains three major arguments. First, teaching ethics in technical communications courses is worthwhile. Chapter One, a review of literature on ethics in technical communication maps books and articles into three categories: theoretical, case study, and pedagogical approaches. It summarizes ways in which major textbooks address ethics and calls for a pedagogy that combines the benefits of all three approaches. Chapter Two provides the theoretical and philosophical groundwork for a "pedagogy of action," based on an ethical stance called "specific feminism" located in a conversation among feminine, feminist, and discourse ethics perspectives. The chapter addresses work by theorists such as Carol Gilligan, Nel Noddings, Judith Butler, Iris Marion Young, Jurgen Habermas, and Alisdair MacIntyre. Specific feminism emerges as an ethic of deliberation and action. The second major argument is that in order to effectively "teach" ethics in technical communication and fulfill their social responsibilities, instructors must be involved in their communities as local intellectuals. Chapter Three begins with an argument about the nature of the public intellectual, drawing on ideas from Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, and Paulo Freire. The chapter ends with a case study of the author's own work as a technical writer for a local AIDS prevention program. The final major argument is that the best way for teachers to bring ethics into the technical writing classroom is through service learning. Chapter Four includes an overview of service learning in composition and describes "the seduction of empathy," a dangerous pattern of substituting emotional response for action in service experiences. This chapter includes case studies of students who used a specific feminist perspective to help them move beyond personal reactions to their service learning experiences, converting their empathy into social action. Chapter Five includes an analysis a popular approach to teaching ethics in technical writing, the hypothetical scenario/case study method, and argues that this model is not as effective as one based on service learning. It describes a semester-long method for bringing ethics into the technical writing classroom and argues that service learning gives students opportunities to apply ethical frameworks they articulate through discussions of theories and case studies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English