Trajectories of Persons and Practices: Sociohistoric Perspectives of Disciplinary Development.

Chapter 8 | Conclusions and Implications

Conclusions: Dialogic Relationships among Textual Engagements

Although our tracings emphasize how these co-researchers’ disciplinary writing and learning are mediated by practices and identities from their other engagements, the profoundly dialogic nature of these interplays demands attention to the prominent ways co-researchers’ broader literate landscapes were shaped by their disciplinary engagements. That is, these interweavings are multi-directional in the sense that they do not just inform co-researchers’ disciplinary activities but also also shape their other engagements as well.

In addition to the popular texts (e.g., comics, manga, movies, and video games) Kate drew upon in creating her fan fiction and fan art, she also recruited many of the texts she had encountered in her English studies classes into her fan activities as well: Everyman became the basis of one of her fan plays; the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop served as the foundation for fan poems about Sailor Moon; Beowulf informed a lengthy fan short story. In Terri’s case, her seeing of patients as a health care professional animated a number of her poems, and also her autobiographical memoir, the science fiction novel she was working on, her religious devotional, and the multimedia video she crafted for her family.

Addressing the profoundly dialogic character of the relationships among people's disciplinary engagements and the wider literate landscapes they traverse is vital for a number of reasons. In addition to illuminating how intimately disciplinary activities are woven into people's lifeworlds, attending to dialogic linkages also serves as a reminder that, while important, disciplinary engagements are not always at the center of people's literate lives. Attending to the dialogic relationships among seemingly disparate literate activities also underscores the point that such linkings are not mere coincidence, but rather an essential part of composing a literate life.

The richly dialogic nature of these linkages points to another key feature of the dense tangle of the multiple nexus these co-researchers assemble and navigate. We have presented these trajectories as a neat, tidy linear sequence of linkings, but doing so elides the messiness and complexity of the connections that link literate engagements together. Addressing the difficulty of capturing in their entirety the dense and far-flung networks that link action throughout people’s lifeworlds, Scollon (2001a) argued that “at no point could one say that the right bracketing had been done to isolate just those actions in a sequence of actions which would give any one of those actions its meaning” (p. 22). The networks of connections that propel development, then, however thick or thin, durable or fleeting they may be, are even richer, messier, and more profoundly heterogeneous than the ones we offer here.

The narrative of Lindsey’s physical manipulation practice traced its development by being linked into creative writing, literary analysis, and graphic design, but from a dialogic perspective, that practice has also been inevitably shaped by its recruitment into Lindsey’s other engagements. Lindsey’s comment about assembling sections of passages and notes for the feminine ideal paper “like a puzzle,” for example, indexes perhaps her use of this discursive practice to solve jigsaw puzzles she encountered as a child and possibly similar kinds of puzzles that she might have been doing with her young daughter. In addition, Lindsey mentioned frequently during our interviews that she had kept a number of different journals (i.e., an autobiographical journal, a prayer journal, a journal of reflections on her teaching, etc.) and that in doing so she frequently cut sections from other documents and taped or glued them onto the pages of those journals. Lindsey also mentioned that she recalled seeing other people assemble other texts into the notebooks they kept, including her father and one of her high school classmates

Our narrative of Terri’s re-representation of patients traced a series of linkages among several literate activities, but the actual nexus of connections among these engagements is much denser and more complicated than the one we offered in Chapter 6. Terri’s “One Nurse’s Prayer” poem, for example, weaves together her engagements with nursing and her poetry writing, as our analysis outlined. But, in evoking the practice of prayer, the poem also indexes her extensive participation with religious worship. Her other literate activities point to even more complex linkages. Terri's description of standing at her best friend’s bedside in an intensive care unit, for example, weaves together her engagement with nursing and writing a memoir, as we discussed in Chapter 6. But, it also indexes her other literate engagements. Experiences at patients' bedsides are also described in Terri's poetry, such as in her "Sonia" poem, and in her religious devotional, such as an entry that describes her daughter as a patient awakening from anesthesia after a medical procedure.

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