Engineering Language: Writing Machines, Labor, and Writing Instruction in the U.S. 1860-2010

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Engineering Language is the title of a research project that I am currently working on that investigates the interconnections amongst the history and development of information and communications technologies, linguistic and literary critical definitions of language, writing instruction in public higher education, and commercial publishing in order to better understand the  definitions, roles and functions of verbal language in twenty-first century media economies.

Since the widespread adoption of the printing press, we have been writing with and for machines.  However, the ways in which and the extent to which machines could participate in acts of writing have changed over time.  We have now reached a point where machines play an active role not only in the reproduction and distribution of writing, but in its production and, even, at times, in its creation and composition.  As we find ourselves increasingly writing with and for machines, there is the possibility that functions once assigned uniquely to humans can be automated.  In this project, I am exploring the interconnections amongst the history and development of information and communications technologies, linguistic and literary critical definitions of language, writing instruction in public higher education, and commercial textbook publishing in order to better understand the production and functions of verbal language, or what was once referred to as “writing,” in twentieth and twenty-first century media economies.

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