Technical Writing in English Renaissance Shipwrightery: Breaching the Shoals of Orality Academic Article uri icon


  • Describing the emergence of the first shipbuilding texts, particularly those in English provides another chapter in the story of the emergence of English technical writing. Shipwrightery texts did not appear in English until the middle decades of the seventeenth century because shipwrightery was a closed discourse community which shared knowledge via oral transmission. The shift from orality to textuality in shipwrightery did not occur until advancing navigation principles enabled ships to sail in open waters. Shipping rapidly became a commercial business, and shipwrightery was forced to move from closely-guarded simple design principles to mathematically-based designs too complex to be retained only in memory of shipwrights and shared via oral transmission. Textual transmission began to supplant oral instruction. The evolution of English shipwrightery provides rich research opportunities for historians tracking the development of technical writing.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Technical Writing and Communication

author list (cited authors)

  • Tebeaux, E.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Tebeaux, Elizabeth

publication date

  • January 2008