Creating Spaces for Strategic Contemplation:

A Collaborative Webtext



By David Maynard and Christine Denecker

Designed by Megan Adams



Chris’s Feminist Theoretical Orientations


In his section, David contemplates the ethical imperative of an intentional expansion of technological literacy. I would like to reflect on that here and consider how David’s research into surveillance and technological literacy—concurrent with his work on the “Ask the Expert” project for ENGL 501 Writing Theory and Pedagogy—created an interesting space of learning and reflection that benefitted both student (David) and instructor (me/Chris). As David points out, an intentional expansion of technological literacy requires that students and instructors grow increasingly aware of their technological choices from both scholarly and pedagogical standpoints. Heeding Selfe’s (1999) caveat that “ignoring this situation” will undermine efforts to “establish an ethical foundation for future educational efforts in this country” (p. 5), the grappling David does in his section of this webtext reminds us that careful, critical thought and reflection should always remain at the forefront of our work as compositionists.  More specifically, if we are to be more mindful pedagogical proponents as well as more intentional users of technologies, we must engage in introspection, and that often involves slowing down or returning to the creative process. In the case of this project, David’s introspection was localized around his composing process, while mine centered on my pedagogical approaches as an instructor. In both cases, that slow down, that introspection, provided spaces in which to contemplate, to assess, to reconsider, and to re-evaluate our work in relation to our own ideologies.


Reflection in the name of intentionality is inherent to feminist theoretical and methodological approaches as are collaboration, reflexivity, a leveling of power, and goals of societal change and justice (Doucet & Mauthner, 2006). These approaches inform my pedagogies and permeate my scholarship. Specifically, the works of Lisa Ede, Andrea Lunsford, Cheryl Glenn, and Kris Blair, as well as the mentorship of both Ede and Blair have been invaluable in shaping my professional practices. Their influence, along with that of Royster and Kirsch (2012), provided fertile ground for the conversations that shaped the scholarly journey David and I took in preparing this collaborative webtext. In particular, Royster and Kirsch’s (2012) theory of “strategic contemplation” gave David and me insight into how his “Ask the Expert” assignment might have more to say to us than what the surface suggested.


Strategic contemplation is the second step in Royster and Kirsch’s (2012) three-part feminist methodological framework. It comes after “critical imagination” and serves as a tool for inquiry and hypothesizing. Strategic contemplation challenges researchers to meditate more deeply on the site and/or objects of inquiry and give credence to emotive as well as intellectual responses evoked. According to the Royster and Kirsch (2012), through strategic contemplation “researchers might linger deliberately inside of their research tasks as they investigate their topics and sources---imagining the context for practices; speculating about conversations with the people whom they are studying . . . ” (p. 84). Strategic contemplation also affords researchers the opportunity to give “close attention to spaces and places both they and the rhetorical subjects occupy in the scholarly dynamic”; and to “[take] into account the impacts and consequences of these embodiments in any interrogation of the rhetorical event” (Royster and Kirsch, 2012, p. 84-85). I argue that Royster and Kirsch’s “spaces and places” of “the scholarly dynamic” can be returned to or interpreted as occurring in reflection of the initial research task—rather than simply inside the research task. Thus, strategic contemplation aptly describes David’s “interrogation of the rhetorical event” following his completion of the “Ask the Expert” assignment. This interrogation began with intentional reflection that occurred somewhat organically in its initial stages, thanks to David’s natural disposition for introspection. However, that intentional reflection became more robust and increasingly probing when I approached him about writing an article about what he had gleaned intellectually from "Ask the Expert."


Next Section: Begin at the Beginning