Manufacturing a Context Public

Rhetorical Implications of Standalone Critical Information Literacy Courses

Is a standalone credit-bearing course—one that like first-year courses in composition or public speaking is integrated into a general education curriculum and required of all students—an effective medium for introducing a critical approach to information literacy? To critique research practices and informational texts, they must be embedded in their cultural and ideological contexts. In a standalone course that is functionally isolated from other elements of a college or university curriculum, those contexts need to be manufactured. Though they may be a limited simulation of something much more complex, manufactured contexts can organize the frequent and intentional practice that is necessary to foster an elementary critical awareness that may be transferable to other contexts. This chapter examines both the manufacturing of a context in a standalone course and the use of rhetoric to address some of that process’s thornier implications.

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