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The Wealth of Reality: An Ecology of Composition

Overview

Margaret A. Syverson discusses the ways in which a theory of composing situations as ecological systems might productively be applied in composition studies. She demonstrates not only how new research in cognitive science and complex systems can inform composition studies but also how composing situations can provide fruitful ground for research in cognitive science.

Syverson first introduces theories of complex systems currently studied in diverse disciplines. She describes ...

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Overview

Margaret A. Syverson discusses the ways in which a theory of composing situations as ecological systems might productively be applied in composition studies. She demonstrates not only how new research in cognitive science and complex systems can inform composition studies but also how composing situations can provide fruitful ground for research in cognitive science.

Syverson first introduces theories of complex systems currently studied in diverse disciplines. She describes complex systems as adaptive, self-organizing, and dynamic; neither utterly chaotic nor entirely ordered, these systems exist on the boundary between order and chaos. Ecological systems are "metasystems" composed of interrelated complex systems. Writers, readers, and texts, together with their environments, constitute one kind of ecological system.

Four attributes of complex systems provide a theoretical framework for this study: distribution, embodiment, emergence, and enaction. Three case studies provide evidence for the application of these concepts: an analysis of a passage from an autobiographical poem by Charles Reznikoff, a study of first-year college students writing collaboratively, and a conflict in a computer forum of social scientists during the Gulf War. The diversity of these cases tests the robustness of theories of distributed cognition and complex systems and suggests possibilities for wider application.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A vital contribution to an important, emerging field. Synthesizing as it does research in complexity theory and cognitive science that has long been lurking on the margins of composition studies, it is in effect the principal work in what will likely be termed hereafter 'studies in the ecology of composition.' In giving form and urgency to the controversies of self-organization, this book will spark much-needed dialogue among composition researchers, literary theorists, and cognitive scientists."—Joe Amato, author of Bookend: Anatomies of a Virtual Self
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809322510
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret A. Syverson is the director of the Computer Writing and Research Lab in the Division of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the web editor for the Computers and Composition Journal Online and also president of the Board of Directors for the Center for Language in Learning.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: What Is an Ecology of Composition? 1
2 Thinking with the Things As They Exist: Ecology of a Poem 28
3 "Next Time We're Not Giving Steve Our Essay to Read": Ecology of Writers 75
4 Desert Storm on the Network: Ecology of Readers 126
5 Conclusion: Implications and Proposals for an Ecology of Composition 182
App. A Syllabus and Journal Questions for Third College Writing Program, 1A, Winter, 1989 211
App. B Workshop Handout 219
App. C Conference Worksheet 221
App. D Correlations Between Events of the Gulf War and XLCHC Messages 223
App. E Distribution of Participants by Location, Discipline, and Gender 235
App. F Example of a Completed California Learning Record 237
Notes 247
References 251
Index 269
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