I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program at Syracuse University where I study technical communication, digital writing, intellectual property, and transnational composition. In addition to researching, I teach courses in the Syracuse University Writing Program. Effective 9/2012 I’ve left Syracuse, NY to finish dissertating near beautiful Doe Bay, WA!
Currently my research considers the ways actors coordinate activity in private, invite-only bittorrent communities. In so doing, I hope to draw attention to the ways that human and nonhuman agents cooperate to create vast participatory archives in digital spaces. Using a mixed-method research methodology heavily inflected by Activity Theory and Rhetorical Genre Studies, my research project explores the potentials and pitfalls of writing created in networked environments. This research connects to Writing Studies by exploring the the ways textual artifacts and various forms of “technical communication in the wild” aid in the tactical development of expansive electronic archives and New Media tools for negotiating data-saturated digital environments; further, my work also draws attention to the (dys)function of intellectual property in peer produced digital writing.
My dissertation, The Piratical Ethos: Textual Activity and Intellectual Property in Digital Writing Environments brings together a range of scholarship from interrelated Humanities and Social Science disciplines in to examine the definition, function, and application of intellectual property in contexts of electronically mediated social production. With a focus on immaterial production – or the forms of coordinated social activity employed to produce knowledge and information in the post-Fordist information economy – this research project demonstrates how current intellectual property paradigms must be reimagined and rearticulated for an age of digital writing production, distribution, and circulation. Closely considering the theory and phenomena associated with piracy, intellectual property and distributed social textual production, this work first provides an overview of the relationship between digital writing and intellectual property in contemporary scenes of networked writing. Next, this project connects Spinuzzi, Hart-Davidson, and Zachry’s “communicational-mediational” research methodology to Sanchez’s recent work on neo-empiricism to theorize how both discursive and material data lend themselves to a more nuanced understanding of the ways that technologies of communication and coordination enable distributed agents to collaboratively create and curate texts and archives. After establishing both a methodology and an interdisciplinary grounding for the themes of the work, this dissertation presents a grounded theoretic analysis of piratical discourse to reveal what I call the “piratical ethos“, or the guiding ideologies of individuals actively contesting intellectual property through acts of participatory archive curation. Additionally, this work also studies the material dynamics of networked writing activity by analyzing the cultural-historical and political-rhetorical systems wherein piratical subjectivity emerges. Finally, The Piratical Ethos concludes by connecting piratical criticisms of intellectual property and distributed textual creation to the shifting terrain of publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences; further, this final section also considers how networked writing holds transformational potential for new media composition pedagogy.
My work is also centrally concerned with writing program administration and the practice of English language writing instruction at the post-secondary level. My research in these areas focuses on curriculum development, assessment practices, and writing program infrastructure as well as the function of transnational composition theory in relation to academic writing. If you have any questions contact me here:
email – jlewis04 [at] syr [dot] edu
twitter – @justalewis
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