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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Dorothy Winsor

Name: Dorothy Winsor, Department of English at Iowa State University

Presentation Title: "Using Writing to Negotiate Knowledge and Power"

Date: September 13, 2001


In Language and Symbolic Power, Pierre Bourdieu demonstrates how the language practices of institutions can generate symbolic violence and relations of power. At the same time, these language practices make existing power relationships seem natural and thus hide the symbolic violence from both more and less powerful inhabitants of these sites. Research has only recently begun to examine critically these practices as they function in corporate America (Winsor; Hull; Gee, Hull, and Lankshear). This talk will examine textual practices within a large manufacturer of agricultural equipment to show how they require subordinates to document their work in forms determined by management. Such documentation represents work in terms acceptable to managers and prevents subordinates from developing alternative understandings of the possibilities of their labor.

Further Reading

"Ordering Work: Blue-Collar Literacy and the Political Nature of Genre." Written Communication, 17.2 (2000), 155-84.

"Rhetorical Practices in Technical Work," The Journal Of Business and Technical Communication, 12.3 (1998), 343-70.

Video Clips