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ERIC Number: EJ1081052
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1522-7502
Writing on the Soul: Technology, Writing, and the Legacy of Plato
Miller, Paul
Composition Forum, v18 Sum 2008
There is some ambivalence over how the idea of the tool in rhetoric and composition should be viewed. During the last four Conferences on College Composition and Communication (2004-2008) the word "tool" appears, on average, more than 20 times a year in the titles of presentations, workshops, and sessions. Sometimes the word has positive connotations, such as "Blogs as Professional and Pedagogical Tools," and "Inquiry and Argument, Tools for Individual Discovery, Analysis and Growth." Sometimes the connotation is unclear, such as "Computational Linguistics and Composition: A Double Logic of Media and Tools," or the aptly titled "'Writing Is Hard, But Tools I Understand': Activity Theory for Teaching Writing to Students in Technical Majors." Other times the word has negative connotations, or at least the sense that a tool is an easily abused objective force, as in "Branded: Student Writing as a Marketing Tool for Colleges" and "Teaching Technology as Concept, Not as Tool." In some cases the concern over tools goes beyond ambivalence, and scholars mount serious, extended attacks on the status of tools, and of the tool as a metaphor in the context of writing. In this article Paul Miller examines the metaphor of writing as tool, refining it rather than replacing it. He argues, writing, as opposed to language, "can" be put aside--that's one of its advantages. Indeed, many cultures never had writing. And writing, Miller states, is fundamentally external and material in its origins and its dependence on technology. He suggests a more approving attitude toward tools, and a more developed notion of how external technology relates to other aspects of the discipline is needed.
Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
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