Case Study #2 Outline: Spinuzzi & Latour

  • Distinction between previous theoretical analysis through/application of Foucault which allowed examination of the discursive writing center and the present analysis using Spinuzzi and Latour, which allows for an activity or action focused network, bringing into focus a specific or local writing center as a network
  • Spinuzzi: Nodes-situatedness & relationships
    • network as a whole made up of activities dictated by 1) instruments, 2) objects & outcomes, 3) division of labor, 4) community, 5) domain knowledge,  & 6) collaborators
    • visualization of activity system of tutoring using those 6 nodes
    • Activities as nodes
      • activities within a session (greeting a student, setting agenda, reading paper, completing session report, etc)
      • many & multiple WC activities beyond tutoring–McKinney’s critique of the “writing centers tutor (all students)” grand narrative, highlighting “other non-tutoring activities—websites, videos , blogs, newsletters, podcasts, in-class introductions, workshops, and writing groups” (76)
    • Categorizing these activities within Spinuzzi’s 3 levels of scope: macroscopic, mesoscopic, microscopic
  • Latour: Nodes–situatedness & relationships
    • Network not as whole, but a series of ever changing parts: “the network does not designate a thing out there that would have roughly the shape of interconnected points, much like a telephone, a freeway, or a sewage ‘network’. It is nothing more than an indicator of the quality of a text about the topics at hand. It qualifies its objectivity, that is, the ability of each actor to make other actors do unexpected things” (129)
    • Nodes as actors/actants that have the ability to affect action: tutor, student, director, assignment prompt, student essay, handbook, computer, pen, chair, etc.
    • mediators vs. intermediaries
    • Causal relationship–non-human object affects action of other actors
      • Latour’s scallop example pg. 107
      • Writing center examples: a session with a computer will unfold differently from one without one; a session with two chairs side by side will require different actions from the actors (tutor & tutee) than one with a chair on either side of a desk
  • Questions of Agency & Movement
    • Latour–agency & movement
      • objects as actors with agency
      • movement of objects from intermediaries to mediators
      • blackboxing–objects become invisible
    • Spinuzzi–agency & movement
      • Agency only for human nodes; non-human objects configured as constraints
      • Moving away from victim framework in Spinuzzi & victim language in writing centers (directors as victims of misconceptions about WCs from colleagues; tutors as victims of misconceptions about WCs from students & professors; students as victims of professors, lack of knowledge, language ideologies/racism/classism )
  • Emergence of Networks
    • Spinuzzi–networks emerge with new objectives & evolve based on the actions of those involved in the activity
    • Latour–networks emerge as actors transition from intermediaries to mediators
  • Evaluation of theories
    • Both–focus on activity/action invites local analysis & the analysis of relationships of different kinds of entities including humans and nonhumans
    • Spinuzzi
      • levels of scope provide helpful framework for conceptualizing different activities of the WC
      • goal of moving beyond victim framework is helpful for considering the agency of different human participants within the writing center
    • Latour
      • Helpful framework for considering the impact of the objects in the writing center on our practices
    • Limitations of these theories–still working on figuring this out…

One Reply to “Case Study #2 Outline: Spinuzzi & Latour”

  1. I like that you are beginning with a clear distinction between the two case studies. This will be useful for your thinking (and your reader). You’ve an excellent grasp of Spinuzzi, and I think you are applying him very well, and I’d say the same for ANT. I’m excited that you are going to grapple with agency and emergence. And of course at this point, you don’t really know the limitations (and ANT can be hard to discuss in this way until you figure out what is and is not appearing). This is going to be a good read.

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