chapter  11
52 Pages

Life as a Noun: Arresting the Universe in Science and Humanities

Discourse Technology Discourses are tools-they do things. That is why they have evolved and thus their functionality determines their character. But because discourses are semiotic tools (and therefore unconscious) they are generally taken for granted in discussions of twentieth-century technology, which focuses instead on designed tools-the material products of conscious invention. Nonetheless, it is the unconscious and evolving discourses of our culture which engender all consciously designed systems. And without a robust interpretation of these discourses, any understanding of the development of material technology in our culture and the ways in which it can be mastered (and masters us) is necessarily incomplete. In this paper consideration will be given to fleshing out the discourses of science and humanities as semiotic technology. The underlying purpose of this deconstruction is to facilitate intervention in the process of literacy development in primary and junior-secondary school (as exemplified in Painter and Martin, 1986; Disadvantaged Schools Programme, 1988; Macken et al., 1989, a, b, c, and d; Rothery 1989a and b).