Print Volume 21.3 (September 2004)

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Sexualities, technologies, and the teaching of writing: A critical overview.
— Jonathan Alexander, University of Cincinnati, and William P. Banks, East Carolina University

In this introduction to a special issue of Computers & Composition, the authors critically review current literature on computer-assisted writing pedagogies which grapple with issues of sexuality.  While this body of work is small, it points to provocative ways to develop our students’ critical and rhetorical sensibilities about the construction of sexuality in our culture.  Further, such work innovatively addresses the place of networked communications technologies in the interrogation of such constructions.  The authors conclude with both an introduction of the work in this special issue that addresses the intersection of sexuality studies and computer-assisted writing studies and with a call for additional work in this field.

Queering the conflicts.
— Brad Peters and Diana Swanson, Northern Illinois University

What LGBT students can teach us in the classroom and online: LGBT students need to develop successful rhetorical strategies for dealing with the conflicts that education, community, and society impose upon them. Webbed writing environments provide a place where LGBT students can prepare to deal with those conflicts by: (1) challenging one another, (2) interrogating course plans and materials, and (3) collaborating responses to homophobic discourse. LGBT students more readily construct and rehearse rhetorical strategies online, because they feel freer to represent their sexualities, without the complications or inhibitions that real-time, in-person conversation imposes. However, these strategies are not as productive if LGBT students don’t also get the opportunity to discuss, analyze, and critique their online activity face-to-face, in anticipation of the writing and speaking tasks that they must perform in much less hospitable public environments.

Always a shadow of hope:  Heteronormative binaries in an online discussion of sexuality and sexual orientation.
— Heidi McKee, The University of Massachusetts, Amherst

In this article, I examine an asynchronous online discussion about sexuality that lasted for several weeks and involved students at three different universities, seven of whom I interviewed.  While issues of gay rights and alliance groups were brought up, students focused primarily on the “causes” of homosexuality and whether homosexuality is “natural” or not, with one student insistently posting that homosexuality is “unnatural” because same-sex couples cannot experience “true love-making.” On one level the focus on the causes and naturalness of homosexuality (with few references to heterosexuality) reinforced the heteronormative binaries that often structure thinking and discussions about sexuality, a reinforcement that I initially found disheartening.  However, in many ways I came to realize, this online thread still served important academic and personal purposes for students despite and because of being situated in binaries.  Drawing from my reading of the posts and from discourse-based interviews with participants, I show that online discussions developed around heteronormative binaries can serve as catalysts for movement in students' thinking about complex issues and that online spaces in particular are valuable forums for students to articulate and then complicate their understandings of issues relating to sexuality and sexual orientation.

Truth or dare: Weblogs in the online culture of sex and celebrity.
— Jo Ann Oravec, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

This article describes how a particular Internet genre, the weblog, can be used to assist in the exploration of sexual topics as mediated through popular (“pop”) culture. It considers the various manifestations of pop culture, with an emphasis on celebrity, and argues that the way individuals interpret sexuality is often tightly coupled with themes of celebrity behavior and imagery. The article portrays weblogs as notable additions to the range of media modalities for examination of sexuality and related themes in educational contexts.

Of flags: Online queer identities, writing classrooms, and action horizons.
— Barclay Barrios, Rutgers University

In this article I argue that LGBT and queer pedagogies have been too exclusively focused on identity.  The problem with these identity-based pedagogies is that they cannot fully account for actual LGBT identities, due in part to a continued multiplication of these identities online. I use LGBT pride flags to illustrate the ways in which these identities have proliferated, presenting a theoretical limit for current understandings of queer and LGBT pedagogy.  As an alternative, I introduce the notion of the action horizon, which forms a pedagogy that encourages students to imagine themselves as actors in the public sphere, shaping policies and confronting complex real-world problems.  The various LGBT pride flags then serve as material in an online asynchronous discussion, writing in a computer classroom, and paper assignments that all prompt students to enact the action horizon.  Despite the possibilities for real-world engagement offered by the action horizon, success with this pedagogy can be limited in terms of LGBT issues, and so I end with some consideration of the implications and limitations of this kind of teaching.

University of North Carolina at Wilmington , Sexualities and technologies: How vibrators help to explain computers.
— Colleen A. Reilly

In this article, I stress the importance of focusing on sexualities in critical analyses of computer technologies. Using the example of late nineteenth and early twentieth century vibrators, I demonstrate that by studying historically remote, pre-digital technologies, students can develop the language and analytical skills needed to interrogate the mutual construction of sexualities and computer technologies. Furthermore, I argue that examining the intersections of sexualities and computer technologies is especially important in networked computer classrooms where students' sexual identities and concepts of sexuality not only shape interactions with peers and with technologies but can determine the quality of the educational experience for all.

Homo origo: The queertext manifesto.
— Jacqueline Rhodes, California State University, San Bernadino

In a 56-point performance of what she calls “queertext,” Rhodes explicates the tensions between “The Word” and “queertext.” The Word, she writes, enacts its dominance through grammar and “extends its discipline” through a host of ills including “English-onlyism,” racism, heterosexism, and capitalism; queertext, on the other hand, resists textual dominance through its emphasis on “the material, erotic realities of our bodies.” Rhodes finds a unique space for queertexts online, claiming that the “hyperlink is an erotic textual moment, when idea and action collide.”

Keeping with the currency of the print-based journal, Print to Screen focuses on the themes found in the recent issues of Computers and Composition, and includes multimodal commentaries that explore and remediate relationships between print and screen.

Section Editor — Elizabeth Monske

Print to Screen