Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Gary A. Olson, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.

Keywords

Writing, Marxism, Rhetoric, Allegory, Cyborg

Abstract

This project addresses problems for theorists of writing and composition that arose in the 1990s when capital privatizes the production of internetworked writing and starts operating in the manner of a practicing compositionist. I begin by noting that capital in the 1990s converted internetworked writing machines into fixed capital and started composing its version of the cultural form of the "social" we call the Internet. Thereafter, I argue that composition theorists can best understand the Internet, internetworked writing, and internetworked subjectivities if they regard capital as a formidable compositionist, one capable of making the machinofactured internetworked composition into a privately owned means for organizing the direct production of internetworked social writing and internetworked social being. I engage with this problem by pointing out that capital's private production of the internetworked social subsumes both the interindividual site of sociolinguistic p

roduction and the individual internetworked writer. I go on to establish that capital uses its control of end-user license agreements to transform the writer subsumed by capital into a privately controlled intellectual property. I argue that capital subjects internetworked writers to a form of accelerated decrepitude because the internetworked writer's cycle of life gets tied in to cycles of software and hardware upgrade, overwrite, and erasure. And, finally, I demonstrate that capital converts the internetworked population of commodified writers, along with their commodified writing and commodified formal compositions, into allegorical symbols insofar as "every commodity is a symbol, since, in so far as it is value, it is only the material envelope of the human labour spent upon it" (Marx, Capital, vol. 1, chapter 2). On the strength of these positions, I argue that composition theorists should develop a theory of internetworked writing and composition that makes the following assumpt

ions: capital has become a compositionist; internetworked compositionists and compositions have become commodities; and internetworked compositions, compositionists, and composition theorists -- for having become commodities -- have entered into an age of allegory -- that is, an age wherein internetworked compositions necessarily make other, allegorical reference to relations of production and exchange that support capital's ongoing production of the composed, commodified, and festishized internetworked "social."

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