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Book Chapter

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Contemporary Perspectives on Cognition and Writing


Chapter 3

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As detailed elsewhere in this collection (esp. Bazerman; Carillo; Talbot), when North American Writing Studies of higher education and workplaces (henceforth, NAWS) turned to European continental philosophies, it turned away from information-processing (IP) cognitive theories. Those theories were early casualties of this “social-turn” (e.g., Bartholomae, 1985; Bizzell, 1982; Brand, 1987); today, NAWS seems somewhat squeamish about the fact that the brain is an organ with a broadly generalizable structure, predictable development, capacity constraints, operating costs, and so on. Yet cognitive research is a dynamic and thriving field that does not much resemble the after-image that persists in NAWS. Some of these changes in cognitive research have been driven by high-profile advances in laboratory methods, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (which monitors intensities of blood-flow as a proxy measure for specific areas of the brain that are engaged by a task), but other changes have been conceptual and thus largely invisible to NAWS.


This book chapter is published as Attending to Phenomenology: Rethinking Cognition and Reflection in North American Writing Studies in Portanova, P., Rifenburg, J. M., & Roen, D. (2017). Contemporary Perspectives on Cognition and Writing. Perspectives on Writing. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. Chapter 3;57-76. Posted with permission

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