Public spheres theories provide purpose and direction to composition instruction: the teaching of writing within this context empowers our students to participate in public discourse and make a difference in communities. New media has been celebrated for its democratic nature, and composition instructors have begun to use public spheres theories as they incorporate new media in the classroom to create a protopublic space. Yet most composition instructors have ignored the wealth of evidence that shows that the Internet is not as democratic as it seems. As such, our new media teaching practices should account for both the democratic opportunities and failures of the Internet. By using examples from my own classroom, I demonstrate how blogs can be used within the composition classroom by focusing on public spheres oriented teaching practices and methods. Four specific pedagogical approaches which instructors can incorporate are discussed: embracing the small-scale, counterpublic, and private potential of the blog; teaching students rhetorical skills which enable them to contribute more meaningfully to online conversations; teaching aspects of online infrastructure and distribution; and consciously using Habermas' criteria of public spheres to construct an online public community of class members. By using new media in the composition classroom, teachers can promote civic virtues within our students, support democracy, and positively transform the Internet's public space.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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new media, composition, blogs, public spheres, Internet, democracy, teaching