Visible and Hidden Transcripts: Word Domination and Paths to Resistance




Claire's story

Clippie and friends

Word dominance

The public transcript

Transcript traces

Ideology saturation

Through thick and thin

Paths of resistance

Assignment Possibilities




Political scientist Scott (1990) suggests examining the ideology behind a dominant force through rhetorical analysis.  He deploys the term transcript to describe the ways in which dominant groups describe themselves and prefer subordinate groups to describe them.  He suggests that the public transcript represents ".. the self portrait of dominant elites as they themselves would be seen…” ( p. 18).

Examining and interrogating this public transcript allows us to consider the ongoing dialectic between power and subordination – a necessary task within classrooms whose goals include critical literacies. Hegemonic ideologies deserve analysis, moreover, students encouraged to develop analytical tools have the opportunity to see themselves as what Selber calls "postive agents of change" (p. 243).

Microsoft's corporate history -- the story of Microsoft as written by Microsoft publicists -- exemplifies the public transcript. Its message is consistent. Its narrative is deliberate.