Writing in a Digital Age: Surveillance, Privacy, Infrastructures & Writing

Monday, October 17, 2016 - 12:00am

Editors: Estee Beck & Les Hutchinson

For over the past twenty years, writing studies scholarship has addressed issues of surveillance and privacy within writing inf rast ructures through course management systems, plagiarism detection software, and social media use in class rooms. For example, writing studies scholars have attended to the decisions teachers face when using digital tools with surveillance capabilities (Beck, Grohowski, Blai r, 2016; Hawisher & Selfe, 1991; Janangelo, 1991) or implementing plagiarism detection policies that impact students (Zwagerman, 2008; Purdy, 2009), the potential harm digital researchers face when collecting data online due to tracking technologies (Hawk, 2007), and how surveillance affects writing program administ ration and assessment with student portfolios (Crow, 2012). More recently, disciplinary conversations have focused on the effects of algorithmic surveillance upon identity (Beck, 2015); investigations into privacy policies of gaming platforms (Vie, 2014); and, the sharing of consumer data with corporations and governments (McKee, 2012; Reyman, 2013).

This e-collection arises at a time when writing in the digital age means having to contend with the dynamic complexities of living and working in a surveillance state, when attention to a data-driven economy of big data, data mining, and algorithmic surveillance blanket efforts to educate, protest, and reform practices by corporations and governments nationally and globally. Because of the work writing studies scholars have attended to al ready, we want to publish scholarship that analyzes surveillance and privacy from more culturally-situated and community-oriented perspectives. Therefore, we are interested in interdisciplinary proposals responding to local or global concerns about education, culture, and/or politics—drawing on scholarship and research from rhetoric and composition, surveillance studies, communications, sociology, media studies, legal studies, scientific and technical communication, and civil and human rights studies.


We are particularly interested in webtext chapters that address:

  • how writing educators, WPAs, and administrators address how surveillance and privacy impact student & faculty composing acts and student identity formation.
  • how data mining, website privacy policy statements, and/or online behavioral advertising inform your pedagogical and methodological practices when having students write using online digital tools.
  • what directions your college or institution has taken to address issues of invisible digital identities, algorithmic surveillance, online behavioral advertising, and protection of student, faculty, and staff privacy online.
  • how community members respond to local to national events where acts of sur- and sous-veillance occur to protect the interests of those in authority and those of the citizenry, e.g., Ferguson, Flint, and online.
  • ways surveillance impact culture(s) and influence daily habits and/or lives as it connects to digital rhetoric and writing, e.g., algorithmic discrimination, fitness trackers, Internet of Things objects, social media habits, intellectual property. representations of surveillance in popular culture--especially as it connects to writing and communicating online, e.g., discussion of the dark web, hacking in TV & movies.
  • how surveillance affects global citizenship, especially travelers, immigrants, and ways surveillance power(s) write(s) the bodies of those in protected and unprotected classes.
  • what it means to be a global citizen who subverts surveillance states and empowers others to do the same.
  • how digital rhetoric and writing scholars/educators inform public and private industries to make reforms to surveillance practices.

Additional Information

We are committed to featuring a range of contributions from graduate students to scholars and teachers of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

In the proposal, please outline how your project will integrate and use digital affordances (audio, video, graphics, animations, and so forth) and what layers of front-end web development code you plan to use. Mock-ups or wireframes may be included with proposals. We are happy to speak with you about any questions or concerns you may have about this format and how you can prepare your submission for the digital medium.


Queries welcome. Send proposals to: digitalwriting at protonmail dot com. The deadline for 500-word proposals of webtexts is October 17, 2016. Notifications to authors will occur on December 19, 2016 and draft chapters are due April 17, 2017.


No comments