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Teaching and Transformation: Donna Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” and Its Influence in Computer-Supported Composition Classrooms

  • Erin Smith
  • Cynthia L. Selfe

In an increasingly global and post-modern world marked by rapid technological, political, and social change, teachers at all levels face the difficult if not impossible challenge of preparing a coming generation for a world that they, themselves, have never seen or experienced (Mead, 1970). Within this context, Donna Haraway’s “Manifesto for Cyborgs” has offered a broad range of humanist teachers and scholars a challenge and the possibility of hope.

In part, it is Haraway’s interdisciplinary background in philosophy, biology, and English that has made her work so important to such a wide range of scholars. She earned her Ph.D. in biology from Yale in 1976 and has since helped to articulate and explore the interconnections among language, science, and technology both as a scholar and as a teacher in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her major works include Crystals, Fabrics and Fields: Metaphors of Organicism in Twentieth-Century Developmental Biology (1976), Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (1989/1992), Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991a), and Modest Witness@Second Millennium.FemaleMan©MeetsOncoMouseTM (1997). Haraway’s theory of “situated knowledges” (1991b), however, has also proven instrumental to feminist, post-colonial, and technology studies, emphasizing an approach to scientific inquiry that assigns agency to our “objects of knowledge” and refuses to view them as “a screen or ground or a resource, never finally as slave to the master that closes off the dialectic” (1991b: 198). Her critique of objectivity has extended to Marxist/socialist feminist and cultural theories that provide totalizing or essentializing explanations of self and society. For Haraway, “partiality” as opposed to “universality” (1991b: 195), ambiguity as opposed to certainty, provide more productive ground for both feminist theory and epistemology.

Keywords

Literacy Practice Comic Book Digital Literacy Defense Advance Research Project Agency Upward Social Mobility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin Smith
    • 1
  • Cynthia L. Selfe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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