March 31: Neurology and Network Society Readings

Graphic taken from University of Illinois at Chicago website:

The flow of Information through neurons.

“Unit 10: Neurobiology.” Online Textbook. Rediscovering Biology. Annenberg Learner. 2013. Web. 31 March 2014.


Neurobiology is a science that explores the brain works at the molecular level. The brain has three primary functions: “(1) take in sensory information, (2) process information between neurons, and (3) make outputs”. Neurons react to stimuli, similar to an exigence. The brain links the outside world and behavior. Neurons communicate rapidly via electrical and chemical communication. Neurons are supported by other cells, called glial cells. These cells perform important support tasks. Neurons are bipolar in that they have a body and extensions at one end and an axon at the end with synaptic terminals that send signals to the dendrites of an adjacent neuron. The neuron operates as a battery by changing voltage. The neuron has a negative voltage maintained by a pump that transfers sodium, potassium, and chloride ions. Proteins, made of amino acids, some charged, move when the voltage changes, causing channels to open and close, permitting ions to cross the membrane. when stimulated, the neuron charge will change causes channels to open allowing for a positive charge, and then potassium comes out and it becomes negative again. The action potential moves down the length of the neuron and maintains directional flow by back propagation. Myelin, a fatty outer layer of most neurons, protects the axon cells of neurons, allowing action potential to travel rapidly down the neuron, and this allows the action potential to travel from the brain to the base of the spinal cord in 1/100 of a second. Some degenerative diseases are caused by the lose of myelin.

Synapses, the meeting places in neurons, allow for communication between neurons. Signals transfer in only one direction across synapses. Synapses are chemical or electrical (gap junction). Electrical synapses are more rapid, but chemical are easier to modulate. Neurons only fire or do not fire-all or nothing. Whether it fires is determined by the number of inputs it receives as well as the nature of those input signals. A signal traveling through the brain may involve many neurons.

Neurotransmitters cause neurons to either fire or they inhibit firing by binding with receptor proteins (ionotropic or metabotropic) for as long as it remains in the synapse. When the signal is no longer needed, the neurotransmitter leaves the synapse by diffusion away, breakdown, and reuptake. The presynaptic neuron can store the neurotransmitter can use it again later. Psychoative drugs can be used to stimulate neurostranmitters for pleasurable experiences, but desensitization may occur over time. Memory involves electrical changes in the brain, specifically in the structure of the neurons. Memory requires postsynaptic neurons to continue firing at a high rate rather than resting. Memories required repeated stimulus of neurons form several sources. A repeated stimulus results in the activation of a circuit of neurons stimulated, which results in learning. Long-term-memory requires new proteins to be synthesized.

Scientist claims there are many kinds of memory that can be viewed in temporal terms: short-term and long-term or declarative (factual) or reflexive (learning by repetition). The hippocampus (which aids spatial learning and memory) as well as the nervous system are vital to memory formation. Neurodegenerative disorders can be combated by engaging in mental activity.



sensory neuron the neurons that take in information from the environment

glial cell support or glue cells in the brain that support neurons and perform tasks such as removing dead neurons and debris, releasing critical growth factors to neurons, and acting as insulating material for the neurons.  Ions are carried through lipid cell membranes via gated (open or closed) channels.

membrane potential – the difference in voltage between the inside and outside of the neuron

resting potential – generally -0.07 volts, the voltage of a neuron at rest

voltage-gated channels – Ion channels on the cell membrane that will open or close depending upon the voltage.

action potenial A nerve impulse, or an action potential, is a series of electrical responses that occur in the cell.

synapses – the meeting points between neurons that allow them to communicate at their meeting points

long-term potentiation The phenomenon in which a neuron becomes more sensitive to stimuli after receiving synchronized stimuli.


How can we compare neurobiology and the activation of neural pathways to Bateson’s discussion of ecology?

Bateson claims that the mind is not capable of mapping entire territories, but only the differences in those territories, and then the mind creates maps of maps to process information. The mind receives information from these mappings (data or information). The mind then transforms the differences, and then the mind perceives the data resulting from transformations made by actions. Bateson says that human behavior involves total mental circuits, and that while the mind as a whole is a complete system, there are sub-systems with the mind that can be viewed as a mind; each step in hierarchy should be viewed as a system (466).

If we were to examine neurobiology in light of Bateson’s discussion, we can see that while a mental thought controlling the movement of the body seems to be the result of one large system, upon closer inspection in biology, the firing or inhibiting of firing of a single neuron is a sub-system within the larger system of the mind.

What can neurobiology tell us about network systems in general?

It seems that neurobiology is useful for understanding the complex ways in which minute actions by a node in a network can impact the entire development or operation of the network. If the synaptic signal is not strong enough, then the action neuron will not fire. It occurred to me while I was reading about the neural network that every node in the network makes a significant contribution to the action of the network. As I was trying to summarize the chapter, I felt that every element was important. According to Castells, in a network society, the space of flows is “the material support of simultaneous  social practices communicated at a distance” and “involves the production, transmission, and processing of flows of information” (xxxii). Flow is incredibly important in neurobiology, and each step in the process of the firing or inhibited firing of a neuron is critical. In the same way, all elements involved in the space of flow, not just nodes that take action or produce, but those involved in transmission and processing of flows.


How is the brain like a computer network?

I was curious to find how others have articulated comparisons between computer networks and the brain and I came across this video that compares the internet to a child’s brain which is still in developing stages, rather than an adult brain that, in comparison to a child’s brain is in a stage of degeneration. According to the video the number of connections within each object is:

The internet: 100 trillion

Adult brain: 300 trillion

Child’s Brain: 1 quadrillion

The fact that every interaction a child has forms connections underscores the potential importance of interactions between every element in a network and in the context of the network.


Castells, Manuel. The Rise Of The Network Society. 2nd ed.Oxford; Malden, MA : Blackwell Publishers, 2010.

The pervasiveness of wireless technology in the global network.

The pervasiveness of wireless technology in the global network.



The preface of the 2010 edition of The Rise of the Network Society provides an interesting look back at the developments of networked society since the first edition of the text was published in 2000. Castells claims that a number of transformations in society (social, technological, economic, and cultural) have contributed to the network society. Castells uses crises in the early the early twenty-first century to illustrate the ways in which the economic, employment, communication, space and time, and human experience are impacted by the network society. While once society operated on a much more local scale, with national borders defining the bounds of society, the globalization of society has resulted in the blurring of such boundaries and the creation of a “global automaton” affecting the global economy that is resistant to attempts to control or regulate it. Labor is now divided into two categories: the talent and the generic worker, and wages have not kept pace with economic growth, contributing to the economic downturn. Internet and wireless communications have made society much more connected and communications much more immediate, as well as equal via horizontal communications. Rather than a society including virtual reality, the real has become virtual (xxix). Concepts of space and time have been turned on their heads. While we value immediacy, timeless time, while glacial time and biological time conflict with society’s valuation of timeless time. he ends the preface by claiming that research and theory on the network society must be accompanied by an ability to comprehend what is observed.

In the prologue, Castells explores some of the trends of the twentieth century that have led to this new society. Capitalism has been reshaped by the technological revolution; society has been reshaped by challenges to paternalism; humans have attempted to find identity in an increasingly fragmented world. Castells claims that all of these phenomena reshaping our society are related and that we can build a better world by observing, analyzing, and theorizing these trends. Castells explores the relationship between technology and society are the same concept, and the state throughout history has either stifled the development of technology or contributed to that development. According to Castells, the new social structure is manifested differently in different cultural structures (capitalism or statism), but informationalism has contributed to  the restructuring of capitalism. Catsells claims that societies are shaped by a complex structure based on production (a complex process), experience, and power (founded on the state). Castells claims that the core foundation of a society is the “interaction between modes of production and modes of development” as the case with the rise of “informational capitalism,” but societies reacted differently to this new mode of society (18). Informational societies are capitalist, but they are very diverse as well, with diversity dependent on cultural/institutional expression.




mass self-communication a new form of societal communication  that is mass “because it reaches a potentially global audience through p2p networks and Internet connection” and it is multimodal because digitization of content and social software allow for reformatting of content in almost any form to be distributed in wireless networks (xxx).

space of contiguity spaces of places (xxxi)

space of flows “the material support of simultaneous social practices communicated at a distance” (xxxii).

timeless time the kind of time occurring in a context when there is a systemic perturbation of sequential order (xli).

glacial time – slow motion time the human mind assigns to the evolution of the planet (xlii).


Theoretical Application: How can a network be both horizontal and vertical simultaneously? How can I apply it to La Leche League International’s network?

Castells claims that the information technology revolution has led to an increasing interaction between horizontal and vertical networks (xxx). He was speaking specifically about the interaction between mainstream media and interactive technologies such as blogs. Mainstream media, which is a top-down organization, has historically intended simply to pass on information without receiving feedback, while interactive technologies such as blogs and Twitter make it possible for the audience or consumer to provide feedback, which in turn may affect what the media outlet reports. According to Castells, horizontal networks often are focused on “communication built around people’s initiatives, interests, and desires” and they may involve cooperative projects (xxviii).

As I was reading the text, I realized that this simultaneous vertical and horizontal organization of the network resembles the way in which LLLI is organized. The organization prefers to promote the horizontal aspect of the organization offered by the mother-to-mother support groups, which require a shared interest in breastfeeding and cooperation of mothers, that are core to the organization. According to Nancy Mohrbacher and Sharon Knorr, mother-to-mother support groups provide informal support through vicarious experience, which increases a mother’s self-efficacy, while formal authoritative organizations make mothers lose self-confidence. Because LLLI leaders provide advice based on the organization’s core philosophy, and because LLLI manuals not only provide breastfeeding support but also strongly recommend an attachment parenting lifestyle that some mothers simply cannot live because they must work to provide for their families, some mothers may lose self-confidence as a parent because they are not capable of leading the lifestyle that the organization dictates.


Mind Map March 30, 2014: Ecology Continued…


Mind Map March 30, 2014

Mind Map March 30, 2014

For this week’s mind map, I continued mapping ecology by adding three new nodes from the primary node labeled Ecology. I labeled these nodes “Guattari,” “Population Ecology,” and “Ecosystem Ecology.”

From the node labeled “Guattari,” I created three nodes labeled “Social Ecology,” Mental Ecology,” and “Environmental Ecology.” From the node labeled “Mental Ecology,” I added nodes to explore  subjectivity vs. individuality (which I also connected to agency), a node defining Guatarri’s differences from Bateson regarding mental ecology (the node is connected to Bateson’s concept of the broader mind as well), a node explaining the relationship of discursive chains to mental ecology (which I connected to affordances), and subjectivity’s relationship to society (which I connected to agency and relationships). From the node labeled “Environmental Ecology,” I added a node discussing machinic ecology and one about human intervention. From the node labeled “Social Ecology,” I added a node about the development of affective and pragmatic. The other node was about social objectives, which I connected to systems and mind.

From the node labeled “Ecosystem Ecology,” I added three nodes. One focused on the boundary between the biotic and the abiotic. I added a second node on bidirectional relationships. A third node contained a note on proportionality in the ecosystem.

From the Population Ecology node, I added two nodes focused on “Population Systems” and “Population Groups.” From the “Population System” node I added nodes for each primary sector of the population system. I connected the “Population System” node to the systems node.

Re-Proposed Object of Study

La Leche League International Network. The needs of the baby drive the organization's core philosophies, which dictate policies that play out in leader/manual/mother/baby interactions, and those interactions may or may not impact interactions between mothers and babies.

La Leche League International Network. The needs of the baby drive the organization’s core philosophies, which dictate policies that play out in leader/manual/mother/baby interactions, and those interactions may or may not impact interactions between mothers and babies. It is possible that information from outer rings of the network may flow back toward the center and impact core policies. For example, the needs of working mothers may impact policies about advice that is provided to mothers, as is the case when LLLI changed the official policy about strongly discouraging mothers from working.


Originally, I proposed to apply the theories that we study in the class to maternal support groups such as La Leche League, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and the Leaky Boob in order to examine the ways in which such groups operate as networks. At that time I felt as though one group would not offer enough material for a series of case studies, but since that time I have done much more research into La Leche League International, and now feel that the organization offers ample material for continued examination in this course. La Leche League International is a mother-to-mother support network that offers breastfeeding mothers support from peers experienced with breastfeeding. Peer support groups such as La Leche League International offer an informal support network (within a formal framework of the larger organization) that can increase the self-efficacy of mothers by allowing them to benefit from “vicarious experience” of LLLI leaders and other members of local support groups who have breastfeed. While LLLI offers support in local mother-to-mother support groups, publications by the organization also are meant to assist mothers who may or may not come to local meetings. The organization began in 1956 when seven mothers who met at a local church decided to begin meeting to discuss breastfeeding, and the organization now has chapters and local support groups in many countries internationally. While local support groups are meant to capitalize on peer-to-peer interactions, they are run by trained LLLI leaders. The organization is based on ten statements that make up the philosophy of LLLI. The philosophy of LLLI guides the interactions between LLLI leaders and members. For example, until the early 1980s, leaders were encouraged to attempt to dissuade breastfeeding mothers from working because one of the core philosophies is, “In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.” According to the organization, the baby is the prime importance in the network. Because of this, leaders were instructed to strongly discourage women from working.

LLLI is an important objects of study in the field of English because much of the activities that the organization undertakes are rhetorical in nature. The organization employs rhetorical strategies to persuade women to breastfeed, to persuade them to employ specific mothering strategies such as attachment parenting, to convince women to build support networks that include LLLI, and asks them to disregard medical advice that is contradictory to known science of breastfeeding (ie. while most general practitioners would advise HIV positive mothers not to breastfeed, LLLI encourages such mothers to breastfeed because recent scientific evidence shows that breastfeeding a baby born to an HIV positive mother may in fact offer the baby immunity to the virus). Also, support groups often contribute to the discourse surrounding the issue for which the support group was formed. For example, Linda M. Blum claims that La Leche League has contributed to the women-centered feminist theory of breastfeeding, and, in the past, has marginalized working class mothers who have to work outside of the home. Maternal support groups also give evidence other tensions that exist between broader society and mothers. Examples include controversies that have arisen when women are asked to cease nursing in public and recent controversies over published images of nursing mothers.

LLLI is a network because it attempts to connect women in order to disseminate information, advice, and offer support via the mother-to-mother model of support. Support groups like LLLI often start on a small scale with perhaps one informal group, and more satellite groups are formed, the support network grows. LLLI is spearheaded by a central leadership, and there is a core philosophy that guides the organization, but local meetings are run by local leaders. While it might seem that the center of the network is the core philosophy, it seems that the babies are the most important nodes of the network in the view of LLLI. The needs of babies inform the core philosophy of LLLI, which in turn informs policy handed down from LLLI leadership to local leaders and then to advice given to mothers. LLLI are simultaneously hierarchical (with policies on advice dictated by the organization) and non-hierarchical with mothers providing advice as experienced peers. In order to maintain the network connections, the organization must establish some method of coordination between the satellite groups and the central leadership. When these connections are no longer maintained, the support group can no longer be said to officially be part of the organization; however, even a single support group may operate as a network in which women with similar experiences communicate their concerns with each other via the center of the network, the support group itself.


Blum, Linda M. At The Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.

—.“Mothers, Babies, and Breastfeeding in Late Capitalist America: The Shifting Contexts of Feminist….” Feminist Studies 19.2 (1993): 290. Print.

Blum, Linda M., and Elizabeth A. Vandewater. “Mothers Construct Fathers: Destabilized Patriarchy In La Leche League.” Qualitative Sociology 16.1 (1993): 3. Business Source Complete. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

—.”‘Mother To Mother’: A Maternalist Organization in Late Capitalist America.” Social Problems 3 (1993): 285. JSTOR Arts & Sciences VII. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

Bobel, Christina G. “Bounded Liberation: A Focused Study of La Leche League International.” Gender and Society 1 (2001): 130. JSTOR Arts & Sciences II. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Boon, Sonja. “Maternalising The (Female) Breast: A Comparison Of Marie-Angélique Anel Le Rebours’ Avis Aux Mères Qui Veulent Nourrir Leurs Enfans (1767) And La Leche League International’s The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding (1963).” Limina 15.(2009): 1-16. Humanities International Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Buchanan, Lindal. Rhetorics of Motherhood. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2013.

Foss, Sonja K. Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration & Practice. 3rd ed. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press, 2004.

Hausman, Bernice L. “The Feminist Politics of Breastfeeding.” Australian Feminist Studies 19.45 (2004): 273-285. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

—. “Things (Not) to Do with Breasts in Public: Maternal Embodiment and the Biocultural Politics of Infant Feeding.” New Literary History 38.3 (2007): 479–504. CrossRef. Web. 7 Oct. 2013.

Koerber, Amy. Breast Or Bottle?: Contemporary Controversies In Infant Feeding Policy and Practice. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2013.

Lipman, Ellen L., et al. “Understanding How Education/Support Groups Help Lone Mothers.” BMC Public Health 10.(2010): 1-9. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Mohrbacher, Nancy, and Sharon Knorr. “Breastfeeding Duration and Mother-To-Mother Support.” Midwifery Today 101 (2012): 44-46. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

La Leche League International. “A Brief History of La Leche League International.” La Leche League 27 July 2012. Web. 20 March 2014.
—. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 5th Ed. Plume, 1991.
—. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 6th Ed. Plume, 1997.
—. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 7th Ed. Plume, 2004.

Rodrigo, María José, and Sonia Byrne. “Social Support And Personal Agency In At-Risk Mothers.” Psychosocial Intervention / Intervencion Psicosocial 20.2 (2011): 13-24. Fuente Académica. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

Weiner, Lynn Y. “Maternalism as a Paradigm Defining the Issues.” Journal of Women’s History 5.2 (1993): 96. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Wiessinger, Diane, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. New York: Ballentine, 2010.

Wright, Anne L., and Richard J. Schanler. “The Resurgence of Breastfeeding at the End of the Second Millennium.” Journal of Nutrition 131.2 (2001): 421S-425S. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Mar. 2014.

Youens, Karen, Debbie Chisnell, and Di Marks-Maran. “Mother-To-Mother Breastfeeding Peer Support: The Breast Buddies Project.” British Journal Of Midwifery 22.1 (2014): 35-43. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Ecology Reading Notes Continued

Guattari, Felix. The three ecologies. New York: Continuum, 2005.

components of subjectification: spoken of instead of speaking of subjectification; with each component working on its own (24)

heterogenisis: process of continuous resignularation (45)

models of mental ecology must: recognize discursive chains at the point they break with meaning and must be decided by how they use concepts that allow for a theoretical and practical auto-cosntructability (37)



Ecology and Affordance MindMap March 23

ecology mindmapIn order to begin mapping the concept of ecology, I added a node labeled “Ecology” and then branched from that node to create three additional nodes called “Mind,” Affordances,” and “Systems.” From each of these nodes, I added nodes containing information to help me understand and remember key ideas about each of these concepts. From the node labeled “Mind” I added nodes labeled “Maps,” “System Hierarchy,” and “Individual vs. Broader Mind.” The node labeled “Maps” explains that the mind cannot fully map a territory, but only the differences in territories. I connected this Node to a node labeled relationships that I have used to map the way that relationships play a role in the various theories. The node labeled “System Hierarchy,” explains that the mind is a complete system as well as a system within a system. From the node labeled “Affordances” I added two nodes to explain understandings of affordances from Norman and Gibson. I connected one of these nodes, containing the idea, “affordances are what the environment offers (medium, substances, and surfaces) to the animal or person” to the node labeled “Agency” that I have been using to keep track of the way in which ideas from various theories are related to the concept of agency. It seems that the affordances present in the environment would impact the agency of those occupying the environment. From the node labeled “Systems” I added two new nodes discussing how affordances operate in a network/environment and how they impact the mind. I connected these nodes also to the node labeled “Mind.” At these point it seems to me that one of the key concepts of networks that ecology helps the analyst understand is the agency of members of the network.

The Ecology of ENGL 118

DVC's Desire2Learn Login Interface.

DVC’s Desire2Learn Login Interface.

The class that I am mapping for this assignment is ENGL 118 at Diablo Valley College. ENGL 118 is a developmental writing course. I almost opted to discuss our Theories of Networks course for the assignment, as I do not use as many technologies in my course as we do in this course, but then I realized that certain types of documents or assignments can be viewed as technologies or applications that offer affordances.

If we were to look at the classroom as a collection of individual minds, we would miss something important the ecology of the classroom. According to Bateson, the mind is a completed circuit, and it contains a variety of sub-systems, but is also part of a larger system that includes the environment, which should not be ignored. The environment in this case is the class. According to Gibson, affordances are what the environment offers (medium, substances, and surfaces) to the animal or person. Norman defines “actionable properties between the world and the actor.” If we were to examine the class environment as an ecology, we would see that there are many affordances in the class, and that there is a larger mind in the class besides the individual human minds that occupy the classroom space.

On one level, the whole course is a complete system, but on another level, at the level of the college, it is a sub-system within a larger system. The individual minds are a sub-system within the system of the course. Objects that offer affordances in the system of the course include:

Course Website: The course website offers a number of affordances to the class mind. It operates a memory because it includes a number of informative elements, including assignment writing prompts, the course schedule, files of course readings, a gradebook for recording and calculating grades, and a place to record feedback for students. It also facilitates communication because it allows students to communicate with one another via the discussion board. It also allows them to work collaboratively.

Google Draw and/or Low-Tech Drawing Options (Crayons!): I have found it beneficial to assign exercises in which students draw representations of their ideas for their papers and/or the issues that we have been discussing in the class. This type of exercise is useful because it allows students to brainstorm, to synthesize, to access their memories, and to create new ideas.  This is beneficial to the individual student mind, but it takes advantage of the larger system of the classroom, of discussions, readings, peer feedback, etc… and when students share their representations, then then help peers create new knowledge or see things in a new way.

ConversaColor Activity: One of my mentors at DVC shared this exercise with me, and I use it early on to help students understand the classroom dynamics for which I aim. After reading the assigned texts, students come to class prepared to discuss the texts. I hand each student a set of cards. A blue card is to be used when the student wishes to answer the question that I have posed to the class, the yellow card is to be used when a student wants to respond to what a previous student said, and a pink card is to be used when a student thinks that we’ve exhausted what can be said about the issue and should move on to the next topic/question. (Students can disagree with the pink card by playing a blue or yellow card.) As we play, I attempt (though there are exceptions) not two speak and to simply acknowledge cards as I see them. The exercise affords the creation of a student-to-student conversation. I knew it was helpful in getting students comfortable with talking, but it hadn’t occurred to me why this until I read about mother-to-mother networks that the reason that this works is because it increases the students self-efficacy, thereby leading to increased self-confidence and student agency. What this does for the distributed mind of the classroom is increases the strength of connections between the individual minds in the class.

Classroom Configuration: The design of the classroom is actually something of a constraint or a sort of negative affordance. I find it challenging in the early part of the semester to encourage the kind of cooperative learning environment for which I hope. There are 30 desks facing the front of the classroom, where there is a table for me. This configuration supports the idea that the class is made up of a number of individual and autonomous student minds within a top-down hierarchy that poses a challenge to student self-efficacy. This is why I routinely have students re-arrange desks into groups or facing each other during activities or assignments so that it is apparent that the course is more collaborative.


Works Cited

Bateson, Gregory. Steps To An Ecology Of Mind: Collected Essays In Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, And Epistemology. Northvale, N.J.: Aronson, 1987.

Gibson, James Jerome. “The Theory of Affordances.” The ecological approach to visual perception. Psychology Press, 1986.

Norman, Don. “Affordances and Design.” Web. 18 March 2014.


Case Study #2: Using Rhetorical Situation and Genre Theory to Trace Maternal Support Networks

This image from the Holy Family Support Group captures the peer-to-peer organization of mother-to mother support groups like La Leche League.

This image from the Holy Family Support Group captures the peer-to-peer organization of mother-to-mother support groups like La Leche League.

Literature Review

A survey of literature over mother-to-mother and maternal support groups reveals that there is currently scholarship dedicated to examining maternal support networks, but much of the effort in this area is done in the health care related fields rather than in English Studies. Much of that work focuses on what makes such support networks successful and how and why mothers benefit from such networks. In “Mother-to-Mother Breastfeeding Peer Support: The Breast Buddies Project” Karen Youens, Debbie Chisnell, and Di Marks-Maran conduct a case study of a mother-to-mother breastfeeding group in the UK in order to examine the effectiveness of such a support organization. Youens, Chisnell, and Marks-Maran. While they found the group to be effective, one of their most interesting findings is that the institution of the program, while it provided an effective peer support program, resulted in the establishment of a broader network of other support organizations. It seems that an unexpected result of the network is that exigencies for new and related organizations were revealed. In “Understanding How Education/Support Groups Help Lone Mothers,” Ellen L. Lipman et al. discuss a mixed-methods study that they conducted in order to examine the outcomes for single mothers utilizing support organizations. Before utilizing these support groups, many single mothers’ felts isolated and had poor coping skills, while membership in support groups gave many women self-esteem, support, confidence. They found that these outcomes mirrored outcomes from group psychotherapy sessions. In “Social Support and Personal Agency in At-Risk Mothers,” María José Rodrigo and Sonia Byrne explored two types of support networks for mothers: informal and formal. They examine the mothers’ satisfaction with the support and the relationship of that satisfaction to their personal agency. They found that non at-risk mothers tended to have more informal support, while at-risk mothers relied more on formal support. Informal support includes private exchanges, are part of the natural framework surrounding mothers, and often includes mutual assistance in which individuals who respect each other may give and get help, community. Formal support usually comes in the form of unidirectional meetings and involves strict protocols. Support agencies include social services, volunteer associations, neighbors, child protection agencies, and law enforcement. Mothers who seek formal support are more likely to help from formal support agencies. Rodrigo and Byrne sought to explore how the agency of mothers was impacted by these types of support, and they found that women who utilized informal support had more self-efficacy defined as “individual judgment about how well a person can carry out the necessary steps to deal with a specific task or challenge” (14). Mothers who had informal support networks had more self-efficacy in the form of self-confidence. Mothers who had formal support networks had less self-efficacy because the support offered by the organizations was unidirectional and resulted in vulnerability, intimidation, and humiliation. Such support was also stigmatizing. Mothers utilizing formal support networks feel that they have less agency and often give up sooner than mothers who use informal support. “Breastfeeding Duration and Mother-to-Mother Support,” Nancy Mohrbacher and Sharon Knorr also deals with self-efficacy of mothers. Lack of experience with breastfeeding, whether firsthand or via observing other mothers breastfeeding, whether personal or second-hand through seeing others do it successfully causes low-efficacy, which negatively impacts a mother’s agency and success in breastfeeding. Mohrbacher and Knorr claim that that mother-to-mother breastfeeding support groups offer “vicarious experience” which positively impacts their self-efficacy, making them feel that they can be successful at breastfeeding.

While the success of these programs, the outcomes for the mothers, and maternal agency are the primary focus of the studies that were conducted in these articles, examining the conclusions that these authors come to about mother-to-mother support groups, such as La Leche League, through the lens of both rhetorical situation and genre theory can give provide a more complex understanding of the way in which mother-to-mother support groups operate networks in themselves and within the context of broader society.

Theories of the Rhetorical Situation

In rhetorical theory, there is often an exigence that is viewed as a starting point of a rhetorical situation. For Bitzer, the exigence is the cause of the rhetorical action. The founders of La Leche League claim that they formed the organization in order to provide support and guidance to mothers at a time when the rate of breastfeeding was low and the medical establishment had a preference for formula. According to Amy Koerber, the field of medicine at the time viewed breast milk as a foundation upon which formula could improve. The role of the rhetor is to simply report the exigency to the audience. The rhetor has no agency. This doesn’t seem to be likely in the case of LLL, however, since the founding members were stakeholders in the formation of the organization. While rhetorical action is the goal of rhetoric, and only those who are capable of taking such action are the audience of rhetoric, other parties do play a role in the network of network.  People, events, objects, and relations all constrain the decision-making process and the ability to act. Constraints on the women who founded La Leche League were nursing mothers at a time when breastfeeding was not the preferred method of infant feeding. To take rhetorical action, the women who wanted to nurse had to navigate a society that looked down upon breastfeeding. Their families, their doctors, their friends, the expectations of society more broadly, all constrained their ability to act. LLL helped women take rhetorical action by supporting them in their decision to breastfeed and by giving them information. If we were to map the network according to Bitzer’s approach, the central node in the network would be the rhetorical situation. Most movement from this mode is outward, except for the possible alteration of the situation by the audience. The situation is not changed by the rhetor, as the rhetor as a node simply reports on or spreads information about the situation to the audience, who receives the information and does not transform the information, but simply acts to change the situation via a rhetorical act. What moves in the network is primarily information. This, in turn, may bring about a change in the rhetorical situation. It seems that the network dies here, and may begin all over again with the altered rhetorical situation. One primary problem with Bitzer’s approach is that it seems to rule out the idea that the organization could be taking rhetorical action as well. LLL aimed to help these women by both taking action on the exigence of the lack of support for breastfeeding mothers. LLL is both the rhetor and an actor in this rhetorical situation, but there is more to the network than this. There is a type of support network that resembles Bitzer’s organization more closely: the formal support network that Rodrigo and Byrne discuss. These organizations seem to offer only a top down flow of information, and often the organizational rhetoric is presented as the one truth rather than an interpretation. These approaches give the audience little agency except to act or not act on the situation with the action that the rhetor prescribes.

Vatz’s theory of the rhetorical situation seems more promising in an analysis of the rhetorical situation of the mother-to-mother support network. According to Vatz, the rhetor decides what is a rhetorical situation by deciding that there is an exigence that needs to be addressed, and therefore the rhetor is not neutral. LLL decided that the low rate of breastfeeding and lack of support for mothers is an exigence. While formula was broadly preferred, these women felt breastfeeding was optimal. The medical discourse of the time would suggest that need for breastfeeding support was not a clear exigence, since it was believed formula could improve upon breast milk (Koerber). Vatz says that rhetors cause a situation to be salient and translate it into meaning. These founders were not neutral. They were all stay at home mothers, and their organization and the advice that they gave was tailored for stay at home mothers. Vatz’s explains that the language that is used by the rhetor makes the event or situation rhetorical and makes it an exigence. When LLL began producing materials about breastfeeding, the choice of language that was used in publications like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was in no way neutral. Even the choice of the phrase “womanly art” was not neutral. At a time when formula was viewed as preferential by the medical establishment, and mothers who wanted to give their children the best chose to feed them with formula, the choice of the phrase “the womanly art” crafts a statement about breastfeeding. The audience, who do not necessarily have to be only those who are capable of action, receives the situation via the meaning that was crafted by the rhetor. The audience of LLL was primarily mothers, but others could also learn from the rhetoric of LLL. A map of the LLL network based on Vatz’s approach differs from Bitzer’s approach primarily because of the idea that those involved in the network is not neutral. According to Vatz’s approach, the central node in the network would not be the rhetorical situation, but the rhetor’s perception of the rhetorical situation. Like Bitzer’s approach, most movement from this mode is outward. What is conveyed by the rhetor to further nodes in the network is the rhetor’s perception of the event or situation. The rhetor’s choice of words or language is an interpretation of the situation is not neutral. This perception is received by the audience, who then may or may not act on it. Like Vatz’s approach, the network may start all over again once the audience receives the information and acts on it. Though there are some changes in the central node, the organization is still primarily hierarchical from the top down.

While Bitzer and Vatz discuss various nodes in the network of LLL, both of their approaches to rhetorical situation seem to leave something out of the discussion of the links or relationships between various nodes in the rhetorical network, such as that of the mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group LLL. Biesecker explains that differánce is a catalyst or origin of the rhetorical situation. In fact, it seems that differánce plays a starring role in the network of the rhetorical situation. Biesecker says that every element in a system, such as the symbolic act, “is a function of its place in an economy of differánce” (118). Biesecker’s approach makes the network much more complex, since difference is everywhere in the network. Biesecker’s theory of the rhetorical situation is different because there are many more opportunities in the network for perception to affect the network. Biesecker says that “neither the texts’ immediate rhetorical situation nor its author can be taken as simple origin or generative agent since both are underwritten by a series of historically produced displacement” (121). The network is not so simple to map here. If difference is to origin of the rhetorical situation, then the central node in this network may perhaps be the conflict caused by the competing agendas of the medical establishment that was in favor of formula and the mothers who founded La Leche League, who found value in breastfeeding their children. The relationships between the nodes are much more complex, like the interweaving of texts that Biesecker mentions. Another thing that Biesecker brings to the conversation is the idea that the audience plays a much more complex role in the network than Bitzer and Vatz recognize. Bisecker says that the individuals in a network, who all have complex backgrounds and cannot be viewed as having fixed identifies, are influenced by and influence the network. We could build on a map of Vatz’s rhetorical network by starting out with a central conflict or difference, that is interpreted by the rhetor, who has a complex background and reports the situation through an interpretation. The complexity of Bisecker’s rhetorical organization allows for more agency by various nodes in the network. Support networks organized in this way show more potential for peer-to-peer support, as found in informal support networks that seem to give more agency to individual mothers than in formal top-down organizations.

Bitzer, Vatz, and Biesecker have differing theories about the origin of the rhetorical situation.

Bitzer, Vatz, and Biesecker have differing theories about the origin of the rhetorical situation.

Genre Theory

Genre theory examines many of the same network elements that are present in theories of the rhetorical situation, such as the rhetorical situation itself, the rhetor, the audience, and the action, but it allows for a closer examination of the ways in which the networks have presented themselves in textual forms, and perhaps even adapted specific forms or artifacts in order to present their argument. For this examination of how genre theory allows us to understand the organization of maternal support networks, I have adopted elements of genre theory from both Charles Bazerman and Carolyn Miller. Miller and Bazerman both begin genre theory with a discussion of rhetorical situation, but in this case, rather than the rhetor identifying one occurrence that presents an exigence that should be addressed, whether the rhetor presents the situation as a hard truth or whether it is viewed as a perception, the rhetor recognizes the rhetorical situation because it is reccurrent. This is a useful way of examining the support networks because support networks are necessary precisely because the situation or exigence driving the creation of the network is recurrent. Lipman et al. explain that for many women (in this case single mothers) the lack of a support network for mothers feel isolated and have poor coping skills. The women who founded LLL did so because there was a lack of support for breastfeeding by society broadly and also within the medical establishment. The rhetor’s role, in this case LLL, is to recognize that there is a recurrent situation that needs to be addressed. The rhetor then adapts appropriate conventions or genres that are most appropriate for addressing the problem. In the case of LLL, the founders took a multi-pronged approach to addressing the situation. The women who founded the group attended church and decided to begin meeting to discuss issues related to breastfeeding in a church group. The women adapted this model with which they were familiar and utilized it in order to facilitate their discussions of breastfeeding and support each other. The founders then published a manual for members of their growing organization. The founders of LLL and the women who the organization served early on where likely familiar with conduct and etiquette manuals such as Emily Post’s etiquette texts. In order for the genre to operate effectively, the audience must be familiar with the genre. This is likely why the organization was effective. According the La Leche League website, the organization started with the seven founders in 1956, and by 1962, it was necessary for the organization to establish chapters with five groups per chapter.

As in theories of rhetorical situation, action plays a very important role in genre theory, but genre theory recognizes two types of action: the intended action and the real effect. Maternal support organizations obviously intend to offer support for mothers, but as Rodrigo and Bryne show, the intended outcome of the use of the support network genre is to provide support for mothers, but often the quality of the support is dependent upon the type of support organization that the mother utilizes. It seems that informal support networks, such as LLL and other mother-to-mother support networks, provide more effective support than formal networks. Rodrigo and Bryne explain that the informal peer-to-peer network provides much higher quality of support because of the mutual respect and mutual sharing of information that is not of a top-down nature, so it seems perhaps that these organizations can be seen as successful because the real effect seems to coincide with the intended effect. These women have more self-efficacy and agency. The support provided to them helps them become more self-confident mothers and helps them to achieve their own personal goals as mothers. On the other hand, formal support networks, while they have an intended action of providing support, and they do indeed do so, sometimes have the real effect that the mother does not have much self-confidence and may give up the goals that they have set for themselves before they might have otherwise done. The lack of self-confidence negatively impacts a mother’s agency, for if she lacks self-confidence and feels that she does not have agency, she is less likely to act as though she has agency. The intended action in the founding of LLL was to provide mothers with support and perhaps to even encourage more mothers to breastfeed. The breastfeeding rate at the time of the founding of LLL was 20%. The CDC’s 2013 breastfeeding report card shows that 77% of American babies are breastfed after birth. While duration varies, and the rate drops to 27% at 12 months post-partum. Of course, this increase since 1956 cannot be solely attributed to LLL, but it is undeniable that LLL has offered support to a high number of women worldwide for several decades. The nodes in the network are: the need for support for mothers (the exigence), the organization (LLL and the founders) who recognized that there is a need for support, the conventions that the organization chose to adopt in order to meet their goals (church meetings and advice manuals), the audience (in this case mothers who are familiar with these types of meetings and manuals), the intended action of support for mothers, and the real effect. The movement seem to be hierarchical, and yet it is not only top down because the knowledge and experience of the audience informs the decisions made by the rhetor. Naturally, information moves in the network, but feedback also plays an important role in the success of the network because if the genre is not successful with the audience, the rhetor might need to make revisions. In this way, information flows two ways in the network. According to genre theory, it is likely that networks grow because the genres begin used are familiar to the audience and when there is still a need to address the rhetorical situation because the situation is still recurrent. If there comes a point in time when the genre does not fulfill its purpose, the genre used may need to change. If there is no longer a recurrent situation to address, then it is likely that the network will dissolve. Though there are many more mothers breastfeeding their children, there is still a need for support because women who do not have experience with breastfeeding need the “vicarious support” that Mohrbacher and Knorr describe. If there comes a point in time when most women breastfeed for a longer duration, then it is possible that breastfeeding support organizations like LLL might shrink or dissolve.

A side-by-side comparison of the real and intended effects of informal and formal support groups.

A side-by-side comparison of the real and intended effects of informal and formal support groups.

What Rhetorical Situation and Genre Theory Offer to an Examination of Maternal Support Networks

Theories of rhetorical situation and genre theory both illuminate maternal support networks, though none of these theories can provide a full map of the network of these support organizations. Biesecker’s vision of the rhetorical situation is helpful because it helps make clear that difference plays a vital role in the perception of exigence and that difference plays a vital role between the nodes in the network. This serves to broaden the network to include not only those acting for and with LLL, but also those acting against the interests of LLL because the differences between these nodes in the network that affects the rhetoric of LLL and the rhetorical action. Rhetorical situation, however, does not provide a full explanation of the recurring situation and it certainly does not give much thought to the way in which the rhetor attempts to address the situation. Genre theory allows us to look at the conventions of support networks, the way in which they are organization, and compare them.

Works Cited

“A Brief History of La Leche League International.” La Leche League International. 27 July. 2012. Web. 19 March 2014.

Lipman, Ellen L., et al. “Understanding How Education/Support Groups Help Lone Mothers.” BMC Public Health 10.(2010): 1-9. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Koerber, Amy. Breast Or Bottle?: Contemporary Controversies In Infant Feeding Policy and Practice. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2013.

Mohrbacher, Nancy, and Sharon Knorr. “Breastfeeding Duration And Mother-To-Mother Support.” Midwifery Today 101 (2012): 44-46. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

Rodrigo, María José, and Sonia Byrne. “Social Support And Personal Agency In At-Risk Mothers.” Psychosocial Intervention / Intervencion Psicosocial 20.2 (2011): 13-24. Fuente Académica. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

Youens, Karen, Debbie Chisnell, and Di Marks-Maran. “Mother-To-Mother Breastfeeding Peer Support: The Breast Buddies Project.” British Journal Of Midwifery 22.1 (2014): 35-43. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Ecology Reading Notes

Image of ecology by Daniel Mirante.

Deep Ecology by Daniel Mirante.

Bateson, Gregory. Steps To An Ecology Of Mind: Collected Essays In Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, And Epistemology. Northvale, N.J.: Aronson, 1987. 18 Mar. 2014.


In the chapter entitled “Form, Substance, and Difference,” Gregory Bateson attempts to use the theories of cybernetic systems and information systems to explain the mind. In his exploration of the mind, Bateson uses physical ecology as an analogy to explain the complexities (and simplicities) of the system of the mind. The concept of the individual mind is problematic because it ignores the environment of the individual. Bateson uses the analogy of territory and maps to describe the way that the mind has been understood. He says that territory is full of differences, while boundary maps make territories seem like homogenous units, but the differences within the territory are the what is mapped. Bateson claims that there is a need to revise our thinking about mental/communication processes because the mind (internal pathway) is different than the cause and effect system of sciences (external pathway). In mental processes, “nothing,” in addition to something, can be a cause. The mind is not capable of mapping entire territories, but only the differences in those territories, and then the mind creates maps of maps to process information. The mind receives information from these mappings (data or information). The mind then transforms the differences, and then the mind perceives the data resulting from transformations made by actions. Bateson uses the concepts of plemora and creature to discuss the different possibilities of ecology of the mind. Plemora views events as a result of actions with no differences, while creatura views differences as a catalyst for effects. Bateson clearly prefers creatura. Creatura sees the world as a mind, and it is hierarchical in nature. The mind places differences into hierarchies, including transformations and levels. the privileging of the individual mind over it’s context (the ecosystem in which it exists) is troublesome. Bateson says that the mind is a completed circuit, and it contains a variety of sub-systems, but is also part of a larger system that includes the environment, which should not be ignored. In the comment on Part V, Bateson discusses the idea that not only is there physical determination in our universe, but also physical determination.

Important Concepts:

circuits – human behavior involves total mental circuits; the elementary cybernetic circuit system is the simplest unit of mind (465). A unit of trial and error is called a system (465). Memory is important to the circuit based on the travel of information around the circuit (465).

delineating a system – draw the limiting line so that you do not cut out any pathways that explain part of the system; the entire context (all the players) is needed to understand the system

hierarchy of systems – while the mind as a whole is a complete system; there are sub-systems with the mind that can be viewed as a mind; each step in hierarchy should be viewed as a system (466). Complete mind is also part of a larger ecosystem (466).

location of the mind – The individual mind is within the body but also is a part of a sub-system in the network of pathways and ideas of the social system and planetary ecology (467). The self is reduced here.


plemora – “the world in which events are caused by forces and impacts and in which there are no ‘distinctions’ […] no ‘differences'” (462). When we study it, we attribute distinctions to the plemora through our interpretations. The plemora itself does not know about these distinctions. More the realm of the hard sciences, but it is not limited to the hard sciences.

creatura –  an explanation in which “effects are brought about precisely because of difference” (462). In studying the creatura, “”we must correctly identify those differences which are effective within it” (462). The world seen as mind (463). Description is always hierarchical.

summation – combining of events to surmount a threshold (in the plemora) (463).

fractionation – in the creatura view, fractionation is when both of the classes of differentation is not additive, but its the product of a logical process of fractionation

elementary ideas – the differences that are caused by transforms that occur when territory is mapped (463).

difference – “every effective difference denotes a demarcation, a line of classification, and all classifications are hierarchic” (463).

classes of difference: transformation; levels;

How can Bateson’s discussion of Ecology inform an understanding of Latour’s discussion of ANT?

Scope of examination:

Latour emphasizes examining heterogeneous elements. He says, to see the social as a set of connections means “all those heterogeneous elements might be assembled anew” (5). Bateson also emphasizes heterogeneous elements. For Bateson, differences are the primary method of classification, and that using difference as a classification enables the mind to map territories.


For Latour, action is not transparent; it is a node or knot of many agencies that ANT must untangle. Multiple agencies account for “the complexity, diversity, and heterogeneity of action” (45). According to Bateson, effects (which I suppose that we could see as the result of agency) are caused by differences. So in the mind, transforming and making transformations seem to be a form of agency. Latour says that non-human objects have agency, and it seems very much like the entire idea of ecology is based around the idea that non-human objects are important to the territory and impact.

What does Bateson’s focus on the ecology of the mind say about disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity?

I think that these clips from YouTube are very helpful in understanding Bateson’s view on the inter-connectivity of all things. In the second clip, Bateson says that he sometimes catches himself believing erroneously “that there is such a thing as something that is separate from something else”. His interdisciplinarity is evidence that he feels that the system of ideas requires understandings of multiple disciplines. I was thinking of Bateson’s statement that transformations are “classes of differences which are created by the process of transformation whereby the differences immanent in the territory become differences immanent in the map” (464). Could we apply this to disciplinary by saying that the disciplines focus on a specific area or feature in the territory of the human mind, and therefore they have resulted in a map of the mental processes that, while it recognizes heterogeneity, does not accept the ways in which the heterogeneity of the disciplines is part of a larger system (or sub-systems within a unified and operational system of thought)?

Norman, Don. “Affordances and Design.”


In the article Don Norman discusses the relationship between affordances (“actionable properties between the world and the actor”) and design. Norman explains that affordances, a part of nature, may not be visible or desirable. Norman points out that perceived affordances are vital to design because it is what is perceived as users as possible. While there are real and perceived affordances, the designer is only able to affect those that are perceived. In design, physical constraints are the real affordances. Logical and cultural constraints also an important consideration in design. Logical constraints “using reasoning to determine the alternatives”.

Gibson, James Jerome. “The Theory of Affordances.” The ecological approach to visual perception. Psychology Press, 1986.

In “The Theory of Affordances,” Gibson explores the relationship between people (or animals) and their environment. He explains that affordances are what the environment offers (medium, substances, and surfaces) to the animal or person, but the environment does not need the individual. The same environment may offer different affordances to different beings. A niche within an environment is the set of affordances that the environment offers to a particular individual (rather than a where the individual lives) (128). Affordances are neither objective or subjective, but can be both. Man’s alternation of the environment makes more affordances available from the environment. Affordances are necessary for the individual. Environmental affordances include objects like a surface on which to sit or lay (such as the ground which is the basis of behavior), nutrients, and materials that allow for manufacture of items we deem necessary. A wide variety of objects (detached and attached) can be affordances. There is no fixed class of objects because the differences between objects are based upon the perception of the affordances that the objects offer the individual.

What is the role of affordances in the network?

It seems that the affordance in a network is perhaps what the actors in the network get from the network environment. This discussion of affordances is enlightening because it is a reminder that the nodes in the network do not share the same affordances. What is an affordance for one member of the network may not be an affordance for another member.

MindMap March 9

mindmap march 10I focused this week’s mindmap on attempting to draw some connections between the various theories that I’ve added in the MindMap. I’ve done that by Adding new large nodes called “Agency,” “Nodes,” and “Relationships”. I choose these terms in attempt to start understanding how each of these theories can be viewed as a network. I contemplated simply drawing connections between aspects of the theories that operate similarly, but I realized that it would be much more useful for me to clearly connect these similarities with a central node that is clearly marked. In attempting to make these connections, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will need to create other nodes related to aspects of networking. I also need to revisit each of these theories to identify and add nodes in instances where I may not have explored a particular aspect of the theories that correspond with the concept of a network.

Case Study Outline Responses

For the outline review, I responded to outlines by Maury and Suzanne (posted in the class Google Drive.)

Maury’s case study outline focused on fleshing out the ways in which Actor-Network Theory and Hypertext Theory can be utilized to illuminate the network organization of live-action role playing games. Maury’s outline was an extensive application of the theories to the OoS. Based on her outline, I think that ANT is a particularly strong theory to apply. At this stage, it seems that she has done an excellent job of applying the individual theories. I am looking forward to conclusions that she comes to about the success of the theory application and how she compares and contrasts the theories. I did pose a few questions seeking clarification. One issue that Maury mentioned that caught my attention was that stability in the LARP network is problematic because it causes boredom and can therefore bring an end to game-play. I found myself curious about what it is that makes the game stable and how that poses problems. I also asked if it is possible to attempt to map the activity of LARP. The fluidity of the game as Maury described it makes it seem impossible to do so. So far, Maury has an extensive and successful outline applying theory to the OoS.

Suzanne’s outline applied CHAT and Rhetorical Situation to her OoS: underground presses. I very much appreciated her chart format, as it made it easy to see the comparisons that she drew between the two theories. Her overview makes CHAT seem an especially strong theory for this OoS, as it allowed her to discuss distribution, something that a focus on rhetorical situation does not seem to allow. Suzanne seemed to focus heavily on distribution, so I posed some questions about the role of production in the network. This, however, may not be her focus, particularly since in a comparison of the two theories, rhetorical theory seems to leave much to be desired in the way of discussing distribution of communications like an underground newspaper. (Not to say that it has nothing to offer, because Suzanne has certainly proved that it has.) I appreciate how Suzanne use quotes to support her claims. I look forward to reading Suzanne’s finished product.