New Book: Metaphors We Serve By

Posted by on March 9, 2009

New Book

Metaphors we serve by: Critical and constructive play with the discourses on service, national service, and service-learning by Taylor, Joby Blaine, Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2005, 393 pages; AAT 3237697

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation presents an argument for the redescription of scholarship, generally, and national service and service-learning, specifically. Its seven chapters constitute a set of interrelated research essays beginning with reflexive constructions of theoretical and personal starting places before moving into critical and constructive investigations of discourses informing service-learning. Conceptual metaphor analysis is the uniting methodological concept throughout. Through close readings of key texts I identify and examine
the implicit and explicit metaphors that frame historical and institutional conceptualizations leading up to and currently informing service-learning.

In chapter one I propose a humanistic scholarship informed by the redescriptive metaphor scholarship is play. In chapter two I discuss the theoretical issues of scholarly reflexivity and trace my own shifting
conceptual metaphors of service. In chapter three I historicize the term service by tracing its etymological story and describing the semantic shifts that underpin its present polysemy. In chapter four I investigate
the manufacture of service meanings by critically examining the conceptual metaphors framing the National Service Movement from 1900 to the present. In chapter five I investigate the contestation of service
meanings by critically examining the conceptual metaphors used in the attempt to establish and authorize service-learning. In chapter six I explore the imagination of service meanings by identifying the growing
number of explicit and purposeful metaphors being introduced into the academic service-learning literature.

The movement in these chapters from historization to manufacture, to contestation, to imagination is from scholarly deconstruction to reconstruction, from critical understandings of social discourses to
creative participation in social formation. A call for the generation of new purposeful metaphors is the logical conclusion to my argument. As a service-learning practitioner, and thus a member of my own audience, I end with a first response to this call. My reflections on the metaphor service is play constitute a final chapter, an afterword that constitutes less a conclusion than another beginning.

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