What Are We Reading? Spring 2020 - Chase Aunspach, Jonathan S Carter, and the Editorial Collective
Welcome to the second installment of our "What Are We Reading?" series.
Although our blog publishing platform is encouraging us to use more COVID-19 inspired clip art, we are here to bring you the best in new scholarship we about technical, digital, and/or networked rhetorics.
The Editorial Collective would like to officially welcome Chase Aunspach as a contributor to this series. Chase maintains a Zotero the rest of us can only aspire to, so we tapped him as a resource for gathering, organizing, and writing about conversations bubbling in rhetoric and rhetoric-adjacent journals.
Given the number of pieces, we have broken them up around a few key themes.
This quarter has brought a range of new studies outlining and deconstructing the norms of digital cultures. Bowen details the growth of Leftbook meme culture and how these absurd and seemingly benign jokes intersect with the larger political discourses. Both van der Nagel and Amundsen look at worlds of phallic exposure and how the circulation of these images move affect, inspire resistance, and reify patriarchal norms. Finally, whether looking at Beyoncé as a Feminist Killjoy or the radical politics of Teen Vogue, both Salzano and Coulter and Moruzi’s pieces show us how digital media ecologies provide new resources for women-centered challenges to political norms and expertise.
Bowen, Bernadette. "‘Lol you go to gulag’: The role of Sassy Socialist Memes in Leftbook." Explorations in Media Ecology 19 no. 1 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1386/eme_00022_1.
Amundsen, Rikke. "‘A male dominance kind of vibe’: Approaching Unsolicited Dick Pics as Sexism." New Media & Society (2020). https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820907025
Coulter, Natalie and Kristine Moruzi. "Woke girls: from The Girl’s Realm to Teen Vogue." Feminist Media Studies (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2020.1736119
van der Nagel, Emily. "Fluids on Pictures on Screens: Pseudonymous Affect on Reddit’s TributeMe" Social Media + Society 6 no. 1 (2020),
Salzano, Matthew. "Lemons or Lemonade? Beyoncé, Killjoy Style, and Neoliberalism." Women's Studies in Communication 43 no. 1 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/07491409.2019.1696434
Fandom & Politics Special Issue
Hinck and Davisson continue the work called for in Hinck's Politics for the Love of Fandom, providing an issue full of new theorizations and explorations of the myriad ways fan cultures redefine political practice.
Special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, edited by Ashley Hinck and Amber Davisson.
Another key thread in recent research and disciplinary conversations is the continuous work of unpacking how networked ecologies both strengthen racist structures and enable new modes of resistance. Hatzell journeys into one of the more troubling places on the web to demonstrate the affective forces that empower white nationalism and make it appealing to supporters. The troubling force of digital rhetorics is expanded by Towns, who explores the gamification of slavery and the reinforcement of the positioning of non-white subjects as "objects of capitalism." In contrast, Maragh-Lloyd shows that many of the most innocuous parts of digital communication, such as posting news articles on social media, provide strategies for resisting the racialized norms of networked cultures. Finally, the special issue of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research takes us into the anti-racist organizing within communication and rhetorical studies, demanding we all reflect on how academic structures erase minoritized communities’ labor, how normative merit discourse hurts scholars of color, and how we can imagine new ways to resist whiteness.
Hartzell, Stephanie L. "Whiteness Feels Good Here: Interrogating White Nationalist Rhetoric on Stormfront." Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, (2020),
Maragh-Lloyd, Raven. "A Digital Postracial Parity? Black Women’s Everyday Resistance and Rethinking Online Media Culture." Communication, Culture & Critique 13 no. 1 (2020),
Towns, Armand R. "Gamifying Blackness: from Slave Records to Playing History: Slave Trade." Information, Communication & Society (2020),
Special Issue of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research on Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege https://dcqr.ucpress.edu/content/8/4
Throwback Bonus on Anti-Asian Racism, Food Politics, & Health:
While not explicitly digital, we are offering a throwback, a return to the work of a friend of the blog, Jennifer LeMesurier. In this insightful piece, LeMeserier outlines the rise of racialized medical discourses around MSG. It is a particularly salient read in light of the racial scapegoating and rampant ethnocentrism circulating as a modality of sense-making in response to COVID 19. LeMesurier, Jennifer L. "Uptaking race: Genre, MSG, and Chinese Dinner."Poroi 12, Iss. 2 (2017), https://doi.org/10.13008/2151-2957.1253
We just aren’t done with thinking with experiential and bodily orientations to digital scholarship, especially since the pandemic has many of us spending even more time (if that was even possible) at our screens. We return with a group of essays that help us negotiate how to think about and with (our) bodies in digital rhetoric. Todd asks us to push back against norms of academic research and embrace our embodied anxieties as part of our research process. Pyyri and Aiava offer enchantment as a new mode unfolding our affective states. Dunn and Myers contend the ubiquity of digital life means that autoethnography cannot ignore the digital, provoking us to wonder if (and how) digital scholars’ work is at least partially autoethnographic? Recognizing that dominant populations are often framed as *the* internet, Clark-Parsons and Lingel map out a "margins-as-method" approach that helps complicate the complex ways alterity manifests and moves in networked spaces. LeMesurier also centers alterity and bodies, exploring how Childish Gambino uses dance to challenge expectations of black male bodies and highlighting that all rhetorical consideration must not only consider bodies but the ways that they are expected to (and actually) move.
Clark-Parsons, Rosemary, and Jessa Lingel. "Margins as Methods, Margins as Ethics: A Feminist Framework for Studying Online Alterity." Social Media + Society (2020),
Dunn, Tasha R., and W. Benjamin Myers. "Contemporary Autoethnography Is Digital Autoethnography." Journal of Autoethnography 1 no. 1 (2020),
Todd, James D. "Experiencing and Embodying Anxiety in Spaces of Academia and Social Research." Gender, Place & Culture (2020),
LeMesurier, Jennifer. "Winking at Excess: Racist Kinesiologies in Childish Gambino’s 'This Is America.’" Rhetoric Society Quarterly 50 no. 2 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/02773945.2020.1725615
Pyyry, Noora, and Raine Aiava. "Enchantment as fundamental encounter: wonder and the radical reordering of subject/world." Cultural Geographies (2020),
Histories, Change, & Revision
Finally, a series of articles came out this quarter that ask that we dive into conceptual and disciplinary histories to pause and complicate ideas that we hold central. Though from last year, our interest in this rethinking was inspired by a special issue of Social Media + Society that featured 2000 word essays by scholars detailing "something [they] no longer believe." These essays feature a range of provocative challenges to the norms of digital culture and its political potential. Following this iconoclasm, Jones dives into one of the most reviled web technologies, the cookie, to detail the evolution of this problematic–but oh so useful—part of digital platforms. Although not explicitly digital, Simonson explores the history of rhetorical theory as an idea in English language discourse, illuminating the settler-colonialist and gendered ways scholars have structured disciplinary memory. Similarly, Hawn notes that while civility has long been at the heart of rhetorical theory, a deconstruction of this mythic ideal demands a rejection of this norm. Finally, Pfister, following a Stieglarian inflection, re-reads the Phaedrus to offer the Cicada as a democratic icon in the face of algorithmic culture’s ant-like protention. This playful imagining offers a new, inefficient model for communication that puts pressure against technoliberal norms of the ideal rhetorical practice.
Hawn, Allison. "The Civility Cudgel: The Myth of Civility in Communication." Howard Journal of Communication 31 no. 2 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/10646175.2020.1731882
Jones, Meg Letta. "Cookies: A Legacy of Controversy." Internet Histories 4 no. 1 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/24701475.2020.1725852
Pfister, Damien Smith. "Digitality, Rhetoric, and Protocological Fascism; Or, Fascist Ants & Democratic Cicadas."Journal for the History of Rhetoric, 23 no. 1,(2020), 3-29,