Blog Post

Hello, world. (I'm Lauren)

Hi, everyone!

I’m currently a PhD student in English (Composition: Literacy, Pedagogy, Rhetoric) at the University of Pittsburgh. I also have an MA in English and a graduate certificate in Gender Studies from the University of Louisville.

My work revolves around the history (and future!) of technology and writing instruction. Initially sparked by a professor’s generous gift of a few dusty “programmed instruction” college writing textbooks, my interest in teaching with/as technology has taken several forms in the last few years: I’ve composed and assigned creative-critical digital essays; researched the open, online publication of course evaluations at local universities; written and presented with colleagues about quantifying scholarly labor; and designed and implemented a study about Twitter as a medium for expressive writing.

My dissertation will investigate how a number of seemingly antiquated gadgets, including programmed instruction textbooks and teaching machines, have quietly maintained their appeal in various guises among college writing teachers. This is despite the popular belief that good writing can’t be broken down into modules or quantified.

At the core of this project (and everything I do) are questions about academic labor, the nature and value of teaching and learning reading and writing, and the politics of contemporary higher education.

I collect retro ed tech kitsch and I cook a lot.

I'm really jazzed to be part of HASTAC and I look forward to chatting with you all!

Lauren

@LRaeHall

 

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3 comments

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Hello Lauren - really fascinating areas of study. Are you suggesting, then, that these gadgets/textbooks have or are quantifying good writing? I'm so curious about how you are studying this, as I look particularly at writing and reading from a very different quantification context - that of neuroscience.

 

Peter

 

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printf...

Hello Lauren - really fascinating areas of study. Are you suggesting, then, that these gadgets/textbooks have or are quantifying good writing? I'm so curious about how you are studying this, as I look particularly at writing and reading from a very different quantification context - that of neuroscience.

 

Peter

 

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Hi, Peter--

Thanks and likewise! Your intro hooked me at "Using neuroscientific methods to look at the ways technology enables or disables imaginative learning at large scale.” Like you, I'm also really curious about large scale learning.

To answer your question, I'm not quite at a point to fully back the idea that program writers (for teaching machines and programmed instruction textbooks) are successful at modulating or quantifying what makes for "good writing." But I do find this impulse incredibly interesting--especially in the face of "leave humanities to the humans!"-type arguments. And I don't find this work as distasteful as a lot of program writers' contemporaries (then and now) do. 

Much of the historical work I've done is on the related concerns and trajectories of mass education, psychology, and early cognitive science and composition-rhetoric in the late 1950s and 1960s. It's really exciting to see that contemporary neuroscience is starting to answer some of these fifty-year-old--and older--questions about reading and writing.

Thanks for stopping by,

L

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