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

Chapter 8 | Conclusions and Implications

Conclusions: The Co-Development of Social Worlds

In addition to serving as accounts of developing practices and identities, these narreatives we offer are also very much stories about the co-development of social worlds, the ways seemingly autonomous social worlds develop in relation to one another.

As these co-researchers’ linkings of heterogeneous practices have come into focus, we have been pushed to consider how such connections are afforded. Scollon’s (2001a) observation that the practices persons act with are always linked to two histories, “a history in the world [and] a history for each person who has appropriated it” (p. 120), suggests that understanding such linkages means understanding their sociogenesis, their propagation through society. These co-researchers are not tenuously bridging autonomous social worlds. Rather, they are taking advantage of linkages afforded by the co-evolution of practice along multiple histories in the world which create affordances for the alignment of those histories.

The history of acting with poetry in the world, for example, is not limited to creative writing. It is woven into multiple worlds, including professional health care, and the narrative of Terri illuminates her multiple encounters with that history. At the poetry conference she attended, Terri heard Jeanne Walker Murray’s reading of “The Nurses,” a poem about nurses working on a cancer ward, from her recently published collection of poems. Terri indicated that part of what prompted her to begin writing her “see me” poems was her encounter with a poem that someone else in the hospital had tacked up in a linen closet. Terri’s “see me” poems take advantage of this history in the world, and also work to extend it. Terri’s purchasing a copy of Murray’s collection of poems and sharing them with the nurses she worked with in the unit is one way she extended (propagated) that history, as is Terri’s inclusion of her “One Nurse’s Prayer” poem with the other Christmas gifts she presented to her co-workers.

The history of acting with tables in the world is certainly not limited to engineering, or even the STEM disciplines and professions more broadly. In Alexandra’s acting with tables across multiple engagements, tables are a central part of the Minecraft game, for example, whether Alexandra ever existed or not. The tables Alexandra created in making schedule planners were uniquely suited to managing her busy life, but arrangements of columns and rows are present in many inscriptions used to organize and plan. Alexandra’s use of tables in inventing and arranging her fan novels and the “live fan fiction” productions she and her sister performed might be more her extension, but graphic representation to guide composing practices is certainly widespread. Likewise, the use of tables to solve the word puzzles and logic art puzzles has a history that extends far beyond Alexandra and her sister’s engagement with those puzzles.

Instances of co-researchers taking advantage of these histories and sharing these linkages with others offer glimpses of how such interweavings are propagated through society. Such instances may seem too fleeting, too few, or too localized to have any real consequence, but we argue that it is through such interweavings that disciplinary practice, and thus disciplinarity itself, is continually produced. When Terri sees patients while charting at their bedside, her other perspectives of patients offered in her poetry, her autobiography, her religious devotional, and her family video laminate that view. When Alexandra uses tables for her engineering activities, her other uses of tables for scheduling, writing fan fiction, and playing games are subtly woven into those engagements. In outlining the impact of writing in the world, Prior (1998) asserted that “literate activity is not only a process whereby texts are produced, exchanged, and used, but also part of a continuous sociohistoric process in which persons, artifacts, practices, institutions, and communities are being formed and reformed” (p. 139). In weaving their wealth of textual engagements into the literate activities associated with their disciplinary worlds, these co-researchers participate in the ongoing development of disciplinarity, to the continual making and remaking of disciplinary ways of being in the world. Through the linking together of heterogeneous practices to meet disciplinary demands of their coursework, these co-researchers' historical participation in disciplinarity works to make disciplinarity more heterogeneous.

The significance of these co-developmental, or co-genetic, links sheds some light on why so-called vernacular literacies were routinely woven into these co-researchers’ disciplinary writing, learning, and enculturation. Although disciplinary and everyday activities may appear worlds apart, in reality they are always already woven together. In this sense, the analysis we offer in Chapter 3 speaks to how analyses of sports as cultural systems are as much a part of sports journalism as they are kinesiology, and journalistic genres routinely appear in first-year rhetoric readers. The narrative offered in Chapter 4 illuminates how literature classes in school are a key site of fans’ initial encounters with the privileged texts of English studies. Our analysis in Chapter 6 points to how health care is a central topic of much fictional work, including poetry (think William Carlos Williams) and science fiction (think Robin Cook and Michael Crichton). The analysis in Chapter 7 makes visible how acting with inscriptions, certainly a central part of engineering, also animates a wealth of everyday activities.

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