Re: [xmca] mediational theories of mind: Suggestions requested

From: Jay Lemke <jaylemke who-is-at>
Date: Sat Sep 01 2007 - 20:47:26 PDT


Maybe getting a bit late in the week for these suggestions, but I
certainly find computer games, and much of the related new-media
culture to have interesting implications for how different media
afford us different "minds".

Very interesting to me is the work of Henry Jenkins, see essays in
his (1) Convergence Culture, and (2) Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers. Also
useful of course is Jim Gee's _What Video Games Have to Teach Us
About Learning & Literacy_. There are interesting pieces by Constance
Steinkuehler (now faculty at Wisconsin, former student of Gee's) on
games and learning, and by Mimi (Mizuko) Ito (Annenberg School, USC)
on mobile phone culture in the US and Japan. These are all more
'communication & society' oriented than education oriented, though of
course "learning" is a pivot term twixt the two.

Ricki Goldman (NYU, ex MIT Media Lab) has been thinking and writing
about how video, particularly the making of amateur video, is a
tool-for-thought. She has an essay on this, and I have something
related, in the new _Handbook of Video Research in the Learning
Sciences_, edited by Goldman, Roy Pea, et al., just published.

The new McLuhan, in some respects, is Lev Manovich, and he does have
interesting things to say along these lines about new media in _The
Language of New Media_. I think he even pays homage to Marshall.

There are some useful citations at:


though these do not have the more complete bibliographies which are
on intranet sites on our campus. If you like, I can send or post them.


PS. your idea of using Turkle and Wisdom of Crowds is creative,
though the latter disappointed a bit. And then there's always David
Olson's _The World on Paper_ (and my review of it!), if you want to
really get your students embroiled in the debates about writing as

BTW, Michael Halliday has written an extremely sophisticated essay
critiquing the narrowness of traditional cognitive science views of
mind, based on his general theory of meaning, which largely says that
mind _is_ the process of construing/constructing meaning with
symbolic resources, particularly those of language and its implicit
categories/relations. The critique mainly says that cogsci does not
understand the linguistic basis of our culture's own folk theories of
mind well enough to achieve its aim of getting beyond them to
something more "scientific". It can also be read as a meta-theory of
language as a tool-for-thought, and as an analysis of how language is
used differently to think 'scientifically' vs. in other ways. I think
it is beyond most grad students, however, and it requires a
reasonable background in the concepts of functional semantics and
grammar. It's published as chapter 14 in _Construing Experience
through Meaning_, Halliday & Matthiessen, 2000.

At 06:12 PM 8/29/2007, you wrote:
>Dear Xmca-ites---
>Toward the end of the month I will begin teaching a grad course on
>mediational theories of mind.
>I would love suggestions for interesting readings.
>We will be looking in a sort of "mcLuhanesque" way at the affordances of
>different kinds of mediators
>in human action/activity/mind.
>So, language and thought
>Starting with early 20th century writers of general familiarity to members
>of this list, I have been thinking about including
>such works as Cszikentmihalyi, "meaning of things," Turkle's recent
>"evocative objects," and perhaps something on mediated
>behavior in large groups such as "the wisdom of crowds."
>Any and all suggestions warmly welcomed. So much going on its hard to even
>think about how to begin to think about this
>upcoming fall!!
>xmca mailing list

Jay Lemke
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276
Website. <>
xmca mailing list
Received on Sat Sep 1 20:53 PDT 2007

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