Annette Vee

  • Associate Professor, Composition Program Director

Annette's Affiliations: DSAM Certificate, Forbes Corridor Digital Initiative, Humanities Engage, Pitt Cyber, STEM Coding Lab

Annette Vee is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Composition Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in writing, digital composition, materiality, and literacy. Her research is at the intersection of computation and writing and speaks to fields as disparate as literary studies, digital humanities, computer science, education, and law. She is the author of Coding Literacy: How Computer Programming is Changing Writing (MIT Press, 2017), and has published on computer programming, blockchain technologies, intellectual property, and AI-based text generators in Interfaces, Literacy in Composition Studies, WAC Clearinghouse, enculturation, and Computational Culture. Her work is taught in dozens of university courses across the world and she frequently gives invited talks and workshops on the intersections of computation, writing, and pedagogy. Her current monograph project, Automating Writing from Androids to AI, examines why and how humans have sought to automate writing across history. A co-edited collection on teaching with AI and other text generation technologies, TextGenEd, was published with WAC Clearinghouse in Aug 2023.

In Coding Literacy, Vee describes how people write for computers through programming. The book situates the new writing technology of computer programming in a longer history of writing and literacy, arguing that the increasing prevalence and relevance of software in everyday life is shifting what it means to be literate. Crossing the disciplines of computer science, history and literacy studies, Coding Literacy offers a perspective on the spread of code from a specialized to more generalized technology and a way of understanding the current drive to learn programming among people outside of computer science.

Her current work investigates how computers write for humans, especially through generative AI. Automating Writing—her monograph in progress—traces human attempts to automate writing and intelligence in 18th C mechanisms, 19th C spiritualist work, 20th C computational logic, and 21st C machine learning. She is also at work on projects that consider the history of the Basic programming language; how blockchain technology affects rhetorics of trust; and how computational algorithms that write and read are affecting human writers and relationships. Past work has explored the role of a 1964 BASIC football game in the history of computing-for-all, aura of NFTs, the use of generative AI for trolling in open forums, surveillance ed-tech in the pandemic, the role of bots online to spread fake news, the connections between computation and rhetoric, and the strange status of computer code as a form of writing protected by both copyright and patent law. With Megan McIntyre, she curated an online exhibit on the 1966 Dartmouth Seminar (WAC Clearinghouse, 2021), a formative meeting for the fields of Composition and Education. She tries to publish in open access venues where possible.

She teaches writing at all levels from first year composition to graduate dissertations and is particularly invested in helping students explore digital modes of composition. Most of her courses include student blogs and encourage creative and critical work using computation.

With Alison Langmead, she designed a popular undergraduate course, Digital Humanity, that asks students to consider what it means to be human in an age of ubiquitous computing. With colleagues in English and the School of Computing and Information, she helped to design and launch an undergraduate major in Digital Narrative and Interactive Design that bridges courses across computer and information science and English.

She was on the leadership team of a Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar Grant, “Information Ecosystems: Creating Data (and Absence) From the Quantitative to the Digital Age,” which brought together scholars from multiple disciplines to consider the roles that digitized data and information affect research in the humanities and social sciences. She is active in the fields of composition, literary studies, software studies and computers and writing.

Visit her website for syllabi and other examples of her work or her Substack blog for current writing. Downloads are available on Pitt’s institutional repository and further citations on Orchid.

Representative Publications

Books and major projects

TextGenEd: Teaching with Text Generation Technologies. Vee, A, T. Laquintano, and C. Schnitzler, C. (Eds.) The WAC Clearinghouse. Aug 2023.

Coding Literacy: How Computer Programming is Changing Writing, MIT Press, July 2017.

Dartmouth '66 Seminar Exhibit. Vee, A. (Curator) and McIntyre, M. (Contributor). (2021). WAC Clearinghouse.

Articles and essays

Large Language Models Write Answers. Composition Studies 51.1. 176-181. Part of a forum, Where We Are: AI and Writing (Eds. M. Davis and K. Taczak). July 2023.

Against Output [After Knapp and Michaels’ Against Theory and Bender, et al’s “Stochastic Parrots”]. Critical Inquiry blog. Part of Again Theory: A Forum on Language, Meaning, and Intent in a Time of Stochastic Parrots, (Ed. Matt Kirschenbaum). June 2023.

BASIC FTBALL and Computer Programming for All.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 17.2, July 2023.

The View from ‘Zoom University’: Surveillance and Control in Higher Ed's Pandemic Pedagogy Pivot.” Co-authored with S.L. Nelson. enculturation: a journal of rhetoric, writing, and culture. Feb 10, 2022.

Automated Trolling: The Case of GPT-4Chan.” Interfaces: Essays and Reviews in Computing and Culture, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Dec, 2022.

NFTs, Digital Scarcity, and the Computational Aura,” Interfaces: Essays and Reviews in Computing and Culture, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Jun. 2, 2021.

Blogs Can Create Community Among Students in Courses Across the Curriculum,” Another Word: From the Writing Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dec 2020.

Iteration,” invited and peer-reviewed keyword entry for Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, eds. Rebecca Frost Davis, Matthew K. Gold, Katherine D. Harris, MLA Humanities Commons, 2020.

How Automated Writing Systems Affect the Circulation of Political Information Online.” Co-authored with Tim Laquintano. Special issue of Literacy in Composition Studies, 5.2 (2017): 43-62. Web.

Rhetoric and Computation.” Special Issue of Computational Culture. Co-edited with James Brown, Jr. (January 2016).

Understanding Computer Programming as a Literacy.” Literacy in Composition Studies, 1.2. (2013): 42-64. Web. [Selected for republication in The Best of Independent Rhetoric and Composition Journals; the most downloaded article in the history of the journal]

The Role of Computational Literacy in Computers and Writing.” Collaborative project with Alexandria Lockett, Elizabeth Losh, David M Rieder, Mark Sample and Karl Stolley, Eds. Annette Vee & Mark Sample. Enculturation, Special Issue on Computers and Writing. (Oct 10, 2012). [Selected for republication in The Best of Independent Rhetoric and Composition Journals]

Text, Speech, Machine: Metaphors for Computer Code in the Law.” Computational Culture 2. (Sep 28, 2012).

“Carving up the Commons: How Software Patent Law Impacts our Digital Composition Environments.” Copyright, Culture, Creativity, and the Commons. Spec. issue of Computers and Composition 27.3 (2010): 179-192. Print.