October 25, 2012

Miller on Daniel

To my understanding, I would say that Daniel's hypertext essay can be characterized as a genre as outlied in Miller's essay "Genre on Social Action."  For Miller, genre is a medium-neutral concept, so the (relatively) abstract flash/hypertext medium (form) of the text does not preclude it from existing within an established genre (let's say documentary). And perhaps most importantly, Daniel's essay does serve the purpose of mediating private intentions and social exigences by connecting "the private with the public, the singular with the recurrent." Daniel's piece presents the picture of a very large social problem piece by piece from the perspectives of individuals within the corporatized prison system. Though each woman's story is a little different, they all carry the same patterns of dehumanization, abuse, and neglect. Visibility (or rather, lack of it) is perhaps the most significant catalyst for the perpetuation of abuse.

And like most documentaries, Daniel's piece addresses its issue by raising visibility through the universalization of the individual, the humanization of a social relationship that many are completely alienated from on a personal level. On an aside, I feel that Daniel's piece had very Foucauldian undertones. Not necessarily in the sense of his rhetorical theory that we have looked at in this class, but with respect to his analysis of the penal system in his book Discipline and Punish. Foucault's analysis ultimately extends to essentially every institution in political society, but the questionable motives of the penal system and its strong incentive to punish are parallels to his analysis of the French monarchial penal system.

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