Winter Blog Carnival Call for Posts: “Small Potent Gestures” that Shape our History


This year, the DRC Fellows have been working together to build out the DRC Wiki. It has been our goal as a group to develop the Wiki as a resource for scholars in the fields of digital rhetoric, computers and composition, composition studies, and other related fields. A further goal has been to “chart the territory” of our field(s)’ history (or histories). We know that building histories is tough, so we are calling for contributions to be included in this project, and hope this blog carnival can inspire people to contribute their ideas to the Wiki, as well.

In her 1999 article “Technology and Literacy: A Story about the Perils of not Paying Attention,” Cindy Selfe describes the “small potent gestures,” using Michel de Certeau’s term, that tend to accompany conversations about computers and digital composition in English departments — gestures that I’m sure many of us continue to see, even 15 years later: “the slightly averted gaze, the quick glance at the watch, the panicky look in the eyes when someone lapses into talk about microprocessors, or gigabytes, or ethernets.” However, we also see small gestures that allow us to move forward in our thinking about the role of computers and web technologies in our writing, teaching, and research. Those are the gestures we hope to highlight in this DRC Winter Blog Carnival: those small potent gestures that help us build the field, pushing ourselves forward through tiny acts that, taken together, challenge our perspectives on digital technologies and our approaches to our work.

For the winter carnival, we invite you to tell us what small gestures you have made that have helped to shape the development and history of the computers and writing and digital rhetoric communities. What objects have you created that push the field’s history forward? What moves have you made in your research that have helped us build our knowledge base? Or, what connections have you made, collaborations have you developed, that push our field to re-imagine itself? You could also reflect on the small gestures of others — what small changes have you witnessed that have resulted in a shift in the field — in research methods, questions, pedagogies, or foci?

Here are some ways you might consider contributing, but we are open to many possibilities:

  1. Tell us about a time when a small change to your approach made a big difference in your research or pedagogy. What can other scholars learn from your small potent gesture?
  2. Tell us about an artifact or object that has shaped your thinking about your research or pedagogy. How has this artifact pushed the field forward, or in what ways might it do so in the future?
  3. Tell us about a current or past collaboration that has challenged you and others to re-imagine the role of digital technologies in rhetorical or literacy studies. How did the collaboration reshape individuals’ thinking or methods?
  4. Tell us about a current or past shift in philosophy or methodology that you believe has shaped your field of inquiry. What technologies or objects were involved in this shift, pushing it forward? How did a past shift change the field, or how do you believe a current one will shape the field’s future?

Again, these are just a few possibilities. We see this particular blog series as one that could take us in many directions, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing how you conceptualize this broad theme.

This blog carnival will run from mid-February into and possibly through March. If you are interested in contributing, please contact me, Liz Homan, at or @lizhoman. We invite contributions from graduate students, postdocs, and faculty, and you are also welcome to post to your own webspace on this topic — just let us know so that we can link to it. Happy Friday, everyone, and we hope to hear from many of you soon!


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