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What are we reading? Winter 2020


Welcome the inaugural edition of "What are We Reading?


We plan for this to be a quarterly review of the books, article, and other media in the world of technical, networked, and digital rhetorics that has grabbed our attention.


With a touch more ado, here are the readings that we loved (or are screaming from Zotero for us to read them). Articles are presented in alphabetical order.


Aunspach, Chase. "Discrete and Looking (to Profit): Homoconnectivity on Grindr." Critical Studies in Media Communication (2020) https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2019.1690157.


Aunspach deftly engages the experience of Grindr to unpack the ways that the app attempts to "capture and monetizes" queer social practices. Beyond the strong analysis of the specific ways Grindr connects queer norms with capitalism, the article offers an exemplary model of the ways to perform rhetorical analysis of apps and their modes of interface.


Carter, Jonathan S. "Transindividuating Nodes: Rhetoric as the Architechical Organizer of Networks." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 49. no. 5 (2019), 542-565, https://doi.org/10.1080/02773945.2019.1671606.


Carter sutures the theories of Bernard Stiegler and Bruno Latour to make an argument that rhetoric should be considered that rhetoric is the technology that shapes the relations between humans and all other modes of matter. Using Facebook's adoption of the slogan "time well spent," the article shows how this rhetorical frame not only seeks to reshape use experience but also redefines the relations between devises, code, factory workers, etc. From this, Carter argues this approach can help critics better account for the creation of identity, subjectivity, and power in networked relations.


Cherbrolu, Rishi. "The Racial Lens of Dylann Roof: Racial Anxiety and White Nationalist Rhetoric on New Media." Review of Communication, (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/15358593.2019.1708441.


Cherbrolu tackles the disturbing but important world of white nationalism and racial anxiety and their spread on social media. This theoretically robust essay weaves together Lacanian theory with theories of blackness as a phobic object to examine Roof as a product and representation of racialized fears on new media. Beyond this important analysis, the essay has an argument for the use of "new," rather than "digital" or "networked," media that should be considered by all scholars of networked media ecologies.



Hartelius, E. Johanna and John Poulakos. "Zarathustra on Post-Truth: Wisdom and the Brass Bell." Philosophy & Rhetoric 52 no. 4 (2019), 384-406, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/philrhet.52.4.0384.


In an essay that is as fascinating for its style as its claims, Hartelius and Poulakos re-write Nietzsche's famous Zarathustra into the current "post-truth" world. Through this engaging exercise in alternative modes of academic writing, they not only offer insight into the nature of many of the crisis of information and truth (fake news, filter bubbles, anti-intellectualism, etc.) that have been attributed to the rise of social media but they also -- via their style -- challenge readers to reconsider the ways that we argue the truths we see in our own research.


Kang, Jiyeon. "Reconciling Progressivism and Xenophobia through Scapegoating: Anti-Multiculturalism in South Korea's Online Forums. Central Asian Studies (2019), https://doi.org/10.1080/14672715.2019.1689832.


While we like to think of progressive politics as committed to issues of multiculturalism, Kang uses an analysis of 5 years of content on South Korean message boards to explore the racialized elements of progressive politics online. Specifically, Kang draws attention to how these spaces allow for selective scapegoating to reify racial hierarchies that benefit the posters. Additionally, it further demonstrates how digital spaces have enhanced the use of tropes of marginalization by dominant groups to promote discourses of nationalism and xenophobia across the traditional left-right divide.



McKinney, Cait and Dylan Mulvin. "Bugs: Rethinking the History of Computing." Communication, Culture, and Critique tcz039, https://doi.org/10.1093/ccc/tcz039.


McKinney and Mukvin outline how due to the contaminant rise in the mass discourse around HIV/AIDS and the internet inextricably link public understandings of these concepts. Specifically, they argue that the "viral" discourses around each cannot be separated and continue to influence how we think about both.


Reilly, Ian. "28 Times Feminist Joke Lists were Real AF: Feminist Humour and the Politics of Joke Lists." Feminist Media Studies (2019), https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2019.1680410


As the inaugural post of our blog demonstrated, online lists are a potent source of inspiration and insight. Reilly performs a thorough reading of a range of feminist joke lists to circulate expressly feminist modalities of humor. The essay not only details the rhetorical functions of this understudied digital genre but also shows strong consideration of how these lighthearted lists are of serious consequence.


Riddick, Sarah A. "Deliberative Drifting: A Rhetorical Field Method for Audience Studies on Social Media." Computers and Composition 54 (2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2019.102520.


While field methods have done great work asking critics to consider embodied habit in spaces and places as part of rhetorical production, this turn has floundered in consideration of online practice. Riddick articulates an approach to online rhetoric that brings the sensory and embodied considerations of field methods to digital practice. Not only does this provide scholars of online rhetorics more considerations of what makes robust methodology, but it provides another strong argument that the digital world is every bit as "real life" as other rhetorical ecologies.


VanHaitsma, Pamela. "Between Archival Absence and Information Abundance: Reconstructing Sallie Holley's Abolitionist Rhetoric through Digital Surrogates and Metadata." Quarterly Journal of Speech (2020), https://doi.org/10.1080/00335630.2019.1706188.


Using digital analytical tools to fill the gaps in the rhetorical life of Sallie Holley, VanHaitsma offers some revolutionary methods for exploring how new digital methods can be used to fill in many of the gaps important but often under-archived rhetors. Excited new possibilities to account for the rhetoric that the biases of history often try to erase.


Voeller, Nathaniel T. "The Digital Sensorium: Considering the Senses." Computers and Composition 54 (2019): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2019.102508


Continuing the trend of articles with profound methodological implications, Voeller brings the growing interest in sense and sensation to studies of online rhetorics. providing curricula for rhetorical instruction, the essay follows in the calls of Aunspach, Carter, and Riddick to take more seriously the ways the bits and bytes of the digital interface and relate to the embodied practices of the users.





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