[I]n order to identify the consequences of literacy, we need to consider the specific characteristics of specific practices. And, in order to conduct such an analysis, we need to understand the larger social system that generates certain kinds of practices (and not others)... —Scribner & Cole (1981)

Looking at the writing of code through a concept of computational literacy allows us to focus on the writing practices that undergird our complex, contemporary composition environments. It enables us to more critically engage with our software because it highlights the people who write it as well as the historical patterns that precede it. —Annette Vee (2013)

Technology Studies [seeks] to understand how material technologies both constrain and enable acts of mind, on the one hand, and how cultures produce, adapt and are affected by material technologies, on the other hand. —Christina Haas (1996)

[T]he agencies of artifacts do not inhere in the prescriptions themselves but rely on the skilled practices that bring them into alignment with a given case at hand. —Lucy A. Suchman (2007)

We can never understand the elements driving the coordination of a natural distributed system if we suppose that the system, its setup, its timing, its rules and culture of operation, are devoid of history. —David Kirsh (2006)



Presenting some scholarship at a Critical Code Studies Roundtable

My name is Chris Lindgren. I am a PhD student in the Rhetoric and Science and Technical Communication program in the Writing Studies department at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN). My research will appear in The Kids Still Can’t Write: Literacy Crisis Discourses in the 21st Century and the Rhetoric and Digital Humanities edited collections.

Much of my research examines the relationships between rhetoric, writing, and literacies, but more specifically writing's relationship to coding practices, and the methods and methodologies to document such coding practices. While at the University of Minnesota, I hope to develop a research methodology that will help me explore and theorize the relationships between people who write code and the integral sociomaterial technologies to facilitate such practices. This, I hope, will position me one step closer to my dissertation research, which seeks new ways to understand how writing source code texts are rich rhetorical activities with sociocultural implications.


Textual documents permeate the lives of programmers. These documents are expressions written to create, structure, delete, and/or enact stacks and threads of data. Despite data’s mediation into digital form, and how many people conceptualize this process as a mere abstraction, or representation, of the sociomaterial world, my research seeks to study and account for how such documents are very much grounded in the sociomaterial world. A programmer, much like any writer, is in constant tension with the emergence of new data that originates from the material world, impacting the ways programmers write, use, and come to understand the programs they are in fact creating. My dissertation seeks to build on and synthesize previous Writing Studies research that accounts for the materialization of language and thought, how this process is situated within particular cultural domains, and how this process impacts individuals, their cognition, and societies writ large (Haas 1996; Witte 2005; Wickman 2010; Vieira 2011). In short, I seek to examine how programmers, who write user experiences, utilize a variety of old and new technologies, knowledges, and symbolic systems to enact such experiences through the manipulation of data.

I am always trying to bridge disciplinary pathways by taking on roles such as Associate Editor for Itineration, which is a journal dedicated to cross-disciplinary scholarship. I also worked as an RA for University of Minnesota's Computer Science department, helping them shape and rollout their writing-enriched curriculum. As a Master's student at NDSU, I co-developed the Sugar Labs @ NDSU project with Dr. Kevin Brooks, utilizing action research methods to learn more about how kids interact and learn with technology and computational literacies. Now, as a PhD student at UMN, I hope to design a study related to the everyday developing and rhetorical practices of programmers.

Presenting at Doing Rhetoric Conference

Chris Lindgren
Writing Studies
Nolte Hall
Minneapolis, MN 56082