Inman, James A., and Beth L. Hewett, editors. Technology and English Studies: Innovative Professional Paths. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006.
A collection of essays about alternate approaches and individual analyses, Technology and English Studies: Innovative Professional Paths is as helpful as it is enlightening. This is largely due to the variety of self-reflective pieces within the collection itself, many of which focus on not just technology and English studies but also pedagogy, information literacy and freelancing. Therefore, it is beneficial to view this edited collection not so much as a how-to concerning the path to professionalization but instead as an offering of many paths to many kinds of professionalization, ranging from the more traditional (teacher/scholar) to the more unconventional (smarthinking.com "estructor").
Editors Inman and Hewett, after defining terms central to the volume, organize chapters into four sections: "The Past as the Future," "Searching the Academy," "Pushing Boundaries" and "Forging Beyond." These titles provide a beginning understanding of the chapters within each section, for while those in the first section, Eric S. Rabkin, Nelson Hilton, Wendy Morgan and John F. Barber, focus primarily upon past experiences for greater comprehension of innovative professional paths, those in the second section, Joanna Castner, Douglas Eyman, Keith Dorwick and Dene Grigar, emphasize the importance of seeking original professional paths rather than following those more readily available. Furthermore, in the third section, Pamela B. Childers, Jude Edminster, John M. Slatin and Mark Warschauer explain some of the resistance to developing such professional paths in English studies, while James Elmborg, Diane Greco, Beth L. Hewett and Mark Amerika, in the fourth and final section, present possibilities for professionalism beyond English studies itself, seeing the discipline as a foundation for growth in different directions.
The essays compiled here are as varied in academic approach as they are in narrative structure, ranging from self-reflective chronological development to evolutionary rumination in the form of hypertext. And the freedom with which the contributors engage in such compositions gives increased perspective on how others in English studies might construct professional paths in word as well as action. Throughout, too, contributors maintain perspectives that are unique as well as educational, often concluding their pieces by summarizing things learned by way of alternative paths to professionalism through English studies. Many of said summaries come in the form of bulleted points which makes for increased emphasis now and easy reference later.
The importance of Technology and English Studies: Innovative Professional Paths lies largely in its breadth of presentation, for the collection overall offers a wide variety of approaches and issues concerning ways and means to professional ends. By no means, though, is this a definitive compilation of essays about new paths to professionalism in the field (surely because there are still other trails to be blazed). However, one of the lasting impressions to be taken from these pieces balancing self-reflection and forward-thinking is not only inspiration to engage in a similar process of writing but also motivation to perhaps re-imagine and rethink just what it might mean to forge a professional path through technology and English studies.