Perpetua: The UAH Journal of Undergraduate Research


Joseph Brasher


College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences




The history of technical writing is well established, but the history of its definition is not. Technical writing as practiced today is a far narrower category than what was considered technical writing mere decades ago. One cannot easily trace this organic focusing of definition back directly to individual thinkers and scholars. Despite this, individualized historical arguments on technical writing remain useful in demonstrating a pattern of evolving academic thought on the subject. Using selected accounts from conference presentations and scholarly articles published from the 1960s to the 1980s, this paper argues that, over time, technical writing’s definition narrowed from covering all texts on technical topics to defining a specific rhetorical category characterized by clarity, flexibility, and- a proximity to the technical fields. Contemporary articles demonstrate that this more exact definition brought with it, a new academic appreciation for technical writing as a legitimate and freestanding field of writing.



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