Computers and writing: Casting a broader net with theory and research

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Department of Humanities


Today, teachers of English are faced with the problem of developing new vantage points from which to consider the use of computers in writing programs, writing classrooms, and individual writing processes. Until this time, the profession has subscribed to a limited view of computers and their effects on writing - a view circumscribed by the paradigms of other disciplines or by our own past experiences with teaching machines and paper-and-pencil composing. These visions are not capable of accommodating the larger and more radical changes wrought by the electronic medium we are now using. By subscribing to them, English teachers may, as Coleridge says, have created a "tacit compact" not to pass beyond a certain limit in speculating about computers. This paper suggests four overlapping areas of exploration, four points of departure that might help us spark creative re-formations of our thinking about computers and their relationship to writing: 1.) Computers and teaching writing, 2.) Computers and language theory, 3.) Computers and learning from the past, 4.) Computer research in other fields.

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Computers and the Humanities