Byron Hawk’s Counter-History: Narrative Inquiry and Researcher’s Task of Re-Mapping

Go here <Byron Hawk’s Counter-History: Narrative Inquiry and Researcher’s Task of Re-Mapping> for Dan Richards’ insightful/summative post on Hawk’s “A Counter-History of Composition: Toward Methodologies of Complexity (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007).

My thoughts …? I see parallels with OOO Rhetoric – and especially given Morton’s most recent posting, concerning a re-modeling of the rhetorical canons – it appears to me as though there’s something intriguingly (and addictingly) strange* about Right now, it seems as though the best way to segue from Dan’s post to my more personal concerns (specifically, concerns about OOO Rhetoric) is to capture part/s of our conversation here:

*strange: This is a reference to Morton’s “strange strangers,” which he describes in this post as “… real, ontologically prior, while the mesh is the emergent effect, the sensual object” (a revision of the initial definition of the term in The Ecological Thought).

  • March 8:

Dan –
Throughout your presentation, I was listening for answers to the question that continues to *haunt* any of the scholarship I’ve engaged in post- Santos’ Contemporary Rhetorics course … which is, “What does _______ (in this case, Hawk) want?” I want to address only two (of the many) answers you offered:

First, you explained that Hawk articulates vitalism as NOT romanticism … that what Hawk wants is to re-frame the field of Composition Studies with an ontological lens – one that espouses vitalism – and as a means of doing so, he uses Coleridge to argue that vitalism was the first form of the complexity theory … (*admittedly I need to spend more quality time with the text before I can articulate this any further …!) But for now, I’d certainly side with Hawk’s articulation, especially given his alignment with compositionists like Ulmer and philosophers like Latour (OOO).

Second, The Haunting … Hawk wants us to break from the old Composition narrative in order to move away – literally – from the traditional dialectic (a dialectic that doesn’t work any longer) toward new, technological ways of thinking through technology as it acts with writing. As we discussed, if we don’t break from the traditional dialectic of Composition, it will perpetually haunt – impede upon? over-shadow – our well-intentioned efforts at teaching writing with technology …

* … My little synopsis is a pretty simplistic re-cap of your more elaborate presentation … for me, Hawk’s propositions are not only insightful but worth extending further into my research and pedagogy … thanks for your analysis … WELL worth our time and attention …!

  • March 9:

Thanks for the feedback/response Karen. While we are relatively sure of what Hawk *wants*, I’m more sure of what will happen after this treatise of sorts. We spoke earlier of developing an OOR(hetoric), and what I think Hawk’s work does is open up an object-oriented pedagogy, a rhetorical education – in the vein of Ulmer and Kameen, and Rickert – that leads to more vacancies in our thinking about what a OO pedagogy would look like. This is where I think Dewey can help – in the educational aspect. I just have to show people that Dewey can be considered, ontologically speaking, object-oriented.

My question to you is: Does an OOR necessarily have to be couched in terms of scientific discourses/technical communication? Are we going to need to distinguish between OOR (science) and OOR (humanities?). I’m interested in what you’re doing/will be doing (or, if we follow today’s class discussion, what you’ll be pigeon-holed into doing) in terms of OO scientific discourse, if this does indeed interest you.

  • March 11:

Dan –
I’ve been looking forward to responding to your response to my response (nice, I know) because I knew that I’d have to do a little sleuthing in order to find the answers I was wanting (which was actually convenient, given the fact that Santos shared with us his handy-dandy list of blogs he follows … a simple search of key words within those blogs led me to some great insights).
I began with Harman’s blog ( which led me to Scot Barnett’s Review of Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects and Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things (in Enculturation).
Having read Barnett’s review (, I feel a bit more capable of answering the two (interrelated) questions you posed in your response above.
You ask, “Does an OOR necessarily have to be couched in terms of scientific discourses/technical communication? Are we going to need to distinguish between OOR (science) and OOR (humanities)?
My answer: No, and No. (but then “yes” regarding your questions about whether all of this interests me.)
I’ll elaborate: First, I’ll turn to Barnett, who writes, “At first, some may find Latour’s … idea of ‘a few mundane artifacts’ having agency … wildly speculative if not outright anthropomorphic. For Latour, however, making such a claim not only makes good scientific sense, it also (and perhaps more interestingly) serves as a generative impetus for rethinking the very foundations of sociology itself “. Essentially, the answer to the question of whether OOR has to be framed in terms of scientific discourses/ technical communication is “no” because the very tenets of OOO/OOP itself (Harman’s wonderful elaboration on the difference between these two in a moment) suggest that this dichotomy (between science and the humanities) is not only false but paralyzing; it is impossible for philosophers to overcome this dichotomy. Latour claims that we shouldn’t even try to overcome it (Pandora’s Hope 294) and, furthermore, that the “… more plausible explanation for the stubbornness of this divide (he’s speaking to the subject/object divide, but can we re-articulate this divide as the sciences/humanities divide for the purposes of our argument?) [can be understood by accepting that] the object that sits before the subject and the subject faces the object [as] polemical entities, not innocent metaphysical inhabitants of the world” (Latour 294). The agenda of OOR is – presumably – much bigger and much more challenging than the dichotomies (i.e. sciences and humanities) that exist within (what Latour calls) the “old” modern Constitution (the Old Regime, the “Cave,” in which bicameralism of nature and society is a legitimate binary). I’d assume that OOR sees the sciences and the humanities as entities that are to be TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT and INTEGRATED … (what Latour calls “collective experimentation” … see Politics of Nature 238). Anyways, I could continue to spiral on and out for quite some time … so I’ll stop there for now …
Before I conclude, though, I want to reference Harman’s post about the differences between OOO and OOP: (
Most importantly, though, is what I think you’re asking of OOR – that is, how to think about Object-Oriented Pedagogy, and how to integrate Dewey’s philosophy into such a pedagogy. Since you want to “.. show people that Dewey can be considered, ontologically speaking, object-oriented,” I’d suggest looking to Barnett, again … he writes, “Among a host of others, [Latour’s] material objects – these missing masses – have included: technology, the body, space and place, and the natural world. Not separate or merely additional constituents in rhetorical situations, these materialities and their intertwinings constitute our reality – are part of the very is-ness of that reality – in ways that fundamentally shape our very senses of what writing means and how we practice and teach writing in the world today.”





About klangbehn

Doctoral Candidate: Rhetoric of Science University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Avenue Tampa, FL 33620-5550 View all posts by klangbehn

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