Integrated Theory for Digital Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 20, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Zappen, James P. “Digital Rhetoric: Toward an Integrated Theory.” Technical Communication Quarterly 14.3 (2005): 319-25. Web. 1 May 2012.

This article offers a survey of the literature of the history of digital rhetoric. Traditional rhetorical persuasion and its restructuring for digital spaces (319) and opportunities to expand on traditional rhetoric (320) are discussed. Digital media’s basic modes and models of communication as well as the related difficulties are discussed (321). For example, “Anonymity encourages experiments in self and gender identities, but it also problematizes notions of authorship and ownership and encourages ‘flaming’–the hostile expression of strong emotions” (321). The formation of identity and community are also discussed (322), with comments from players who create player characters and decide whether they are their pc or not. Zappen notes that relationships between online and offline communities actually increase social ties (323). He ends with questions, which he says will lead towards an integrated theory.

There are some useful ideas discussed, especially in connection with yesterday’s post (identity, community, ownership and authorship). But as a move towards an integrated theory of digital rhetoric, this article falls short. The review of literature covers a single article or two per point and is by no means comprehensive.

Most helpful would be the stories included, with quotes, about how online and offline personalities, identities, and questions relate.



Web 2.0 Collaboration in Bus Comm

by Dr Davis on April 19, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Beuchler, Scott. “Using Web 2.0 to Collaborate.” Business Communication Today 73 (2010): 439-43. Web. 15 January 2014.

Beuchler added a blog to the final report project, which is a collaborative assignment. Group photos, the class naming the blog, required postings, and the information for those posts were part of the assignment. Teams of students related by industries they examined were required to create a video, which was also posted to the blog. After five companies made it to the finals, based on classroom voting and recommendations, students had to read posts on the five companies and add a comment arguing for the company they would choose to support. Beuchler found that the blog facilitated group decision making, allowed students to demonstrate their ability to use technology, and reinforced the responsibility of ideas.

typingThis is a fairly simple addition to the final report project, but apparently Beuchler had great success with it. Following the work of Cardon and Okoro, however, it indicates a use of technology not common in the business world. However, despite Cardon and Okoro’s arguments, learning an additional technology–even if it is not used in work–can be a positive benefit as students recognize their ability to learn and use technology and can claim facility with it as a skill on their résumé.

When I first read the summary, I thought the article would be a waste of time. However, I have been considering creating a blog (on my own website) that students would have access to and could add the information that they create for the freshmen. Then I could offer my own students (and others) the opportunity to peruse the website and use the information they find there. That is still a possibility for implementation in spring 2014 and is certainly doable by fall 2014.



CFP: Rhetoric, Memory, SF/Fan

by Dr Davis on April 18, 2014

Edited Collection: Memory in Popular Culture [abstracts due 5/1/14]
full name / name of organization:
Heather Urbanski, Fitchburg State University
contact email:
[email protected]
Upcoming collection on memory in popular culture, under contract with McFarland and Company, seeks proposals for academic essays on the complex role of rhetorical and social memory in science fiction, fantasy, fandom, and online gaming. Abstracts due 5/1/14 with final essays due 11/15/14.

For the upcoming collection Essays on Memory in Popular Culture, I am seeking contributions that describe and analyze the complex rhetorical memory involved in contemporary popular culture reception and consumption.

The key assumption of this collection is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that memory is no longer important, this rhetorical canon has been transformed and complicated rather than subsumed, as recent scholarship into such areas as digital media, fandom studies, and memory objects demonstrates. This collection, therefore, seeks essays that document and examine this rhetorical principle in all its complexity.

Submissions are being solicited that examine cultural memory within the following categories:
• Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre texts
• Fandom activities (including fan fiction and cosplay)
• Online Gaming
• Digital collaboration and media

In addition to traditional academic essays (approximately 5,000 words each), there will also be a section for player and participant reflections (approximately 1,000 words) that briefly describe the experience of fan memory from a non-academic perspective.

Priority will be given to those authors who are members of the fandom communities they are discussing. I am looking for fans to analyze their own interests, as opposed to academics who stand outside the community and then theorize about the activities they observe. Graduate students and junior faculty are especially encouraged to submit abstracts. I am also particularly interested in essays describing the activity-based experiences of fandom from global (i.e., non-Western) and other diverse perspectives.

While the underlying premise of this collection is rhetorically based, interdisciplinary approaches are most desirable. In particular, my goal is to collect perspectives that cover the intersection of contemporary interpretations and explorations of the ancient rhetorical canon of memory, fandom studies, narrative theory, and scholarship into digital media. Please also keep in mind, however, that the primary audience includes both fans and academics so the approach should be accessible to interested, but not expert, readers.

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (as Word or .rtf email attachments) for essays targeted at 5,000 words or for participant reflections at 1,000 words by May 1, 2014 to [email protected]

From the CFPs at UPenn.

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YouTube and Comm Ethics

by Dr Davis on April 18, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Lehman, Carol M., Debbie D. DuFrene, and Mark W. Lehman. “YouTube Video Project: A ‘Cool’ Way to Learn Communication Ethics.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 444-49.

The article begins with the statement that businesses expect their business students to have been instructed in ethics. It then discusses the issue with studying case studies (irrelevant and boring) and argues that role playing, through the creation of a video on the case study, engages critical thinking and contributes to student enjoyment–which might increase learning (445). The assignment is to create a video on the case study that is to be part of the class’ (company’s) formal training on ethics. As a beginning point, students should learn the four behavior possibilities (illegal and unethical; legal, yet unethical; illegal, yet ethical; legal and ethical). Students decide on a communication rule and create a two- to four-minute video giving a realistic roleplaying of breaking that rule. Five points about videos that students might not know should be explained. 1) Short and simple. 2) Avoid gimmicks and too much movement. 3) Have good audio. 4) Choose appropriate clothing, avoiding patterns and bright colors. 5) Edit the video to eliminate errors. Inviting judges to watch and score the videos is recommended (446). Also having a premier is recommended.

This article refers to YouTube as “cutting-edge social media” (444). I think this is a mistake, even for 2010, though it is certainly not true in 2014. In 2014 Instagram would be the cutting-edge social media. However, YouTube is a viable and–dare I say–revered channel for students. Certainly a premier gives the appearance of importance, which is why I have done this with my fyc classes. The points for teaching about videos are good–though most of my students don’t make those mistakes anyway.

I think that when I have a B&P Writing class that is larger instituting this might be a good idea. I dropped the ethics assignment because they have a course in ethics in their major (business related) and I couldn’t do anything substantially better or different. This, however, might qualify.



Not Just Western Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 17, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Wei, Yong-Kang. “Ethos on the Web: A Cross-Cultural Approach.” Writing the Visual: A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication. Eds. Carol David and Anne R. Richards. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008. Print. 146-67.

Two versions of ethos in historical West:
Platonic = individual quality of the rhetoric
artistic = portrayal that creates ethos (as suggested by Aristotle)

Plato’s notion of character, that a person must be true to his/herself in order to learn and share truth… (147)

Platonic ethos = place where language and truth become incarnational (quoting Baumlin 148)

Aristotle says persuasion ought to be based on the language (logic) of the argument, not the ethos of the rhetor. (148) What does that say for us?

Western ethos =/= universal

Chinese ethos shifts from individual to community (148)

“Harmonic rhetoric … speaks to positioning oneself fitly in the world” (Wei 149).
appeal to ethos is historical, abstains from appealing to individual (149)
appeal to authority builds ethos (149)

West: language and reality can be separated
China: language and reality are integrated (149)

Chinese rhetoric makes no appeal/connection to truth (150)
truth is a non-issue in ancient Chinese thought?

classical Chinese rhetoric (metaphor) = bamboo hypertext (150)
“nonlinear, open ended, collective, multi accentual, interactive, and networked” (Wei 151)

ancient Chinese writings appealed to a master, not necessarily written by a master
so writings of the same master would be inconsistent, because not actual author
purpose, subject matter, rhetor, and context differed (151)

significance of bamboo hypertext: authorship moves away from self-structure (Wei 151)

collective authorship = self-effacement (151)

Wei talks about ethos in the visual.

Western rhetoric, ethos is individualistic
Wei says “focusing on creating character or ethos” (Wei 152).
I say, no, on “portraying character or ethos.”

quotes and discusses Buchanan (152)
“projecting the self through artistic manipulation” (Wei 152)
I think Wei is saying portrayal, not truth. However, is portrayal of an aspect, rather than the multi-faceted whole, a lie or simply a limited truth?

Chinese ethos based on non-individual aspects:
Dao (153)

Western rhetoric is a problem for Chinese because “separates the design of an individual work from its environment” (Wei 153).
There is no context for a work? That doesn’t seem right.

“the Western ethos of visual design is clearly seen as something from within” (Wei 153)
Really? Does Wei mean that ethos comes from the design itself?

For China, context is important. A golden temple needs to be created in respect to the space and purpose. (153)
I think this is also true for GOOD Western design.

Chinese visual design requires the minimalization of humanity seen in the work. (154)
“demands ability to … erase traces of human effort” (Wei 154)

Western ethos is individual and belongs to individual. Not so Chinese.
Is this why they don’t recognize copyright?

Chinese art “values how pieces of design should relate to each other and to the surrounding world” (Wei 154).

Chinese and other non-Western “communication relies on the context to deliver messages” (Wei 155) –citing Edward Hall
context delivers message versus rhetorical triangle without context

Western = visually expressive, elaborate (155)
Chinese = simplicity

Chinese design “valued for being integrated with nature and environment” (Wei 155)
Think Arts and Crafts guy who did house falling waters–Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chinese “design does not have to declare itself in full” (Wei 155)

doing less is more (156)

Western ethos is becoming collective online (156).

“Western sites where the creation of ethos relies heavily on the visual appeals of graphics” (Wei 157)
I have seen this in my fyc and business writing classes, when students present their evaluations of bad websites. They often focus on the graphics and visual appeals.

visually overwhelming = individualistic (Western) (158)
white space = calm (Chinese) (159)
gives Screen shots of these

“Western websites are more content-specific” (Wei 161)

“Western websites tend to exhibit a disconnection from the cultural context” (Wei 161). Example: Bud Light site in UK “Whassup” (162)

Multimedia matches Western ethos, is what I got from 164.

Western ethos can USE the cultural, historical, authoritative, but they are less respected. (165)

Questions for comparing/contrasting Chinese and Western websites given on page 166.
(Three sets of questions.)



by Dr Davis on April 16, 2014

One of my colleagues reads the New York Times book review section regularly. Today he sent an email to my chair, my dean, the provost, and our president saying that I had been quoted.

It’s true! My article in Femspec is quoted in the New York Times.

My colleague also told my son, who attends the college. My son texted me a screenshot. That was the first I heard of it, as I had not checked email yet this morning.

Yay for the article!

Yay for my colleague who spread the news!


Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 4 Juxtaposition

by Dr Davis on April 16, 2014

Rice, Jeff. “Juxtaposition.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 73-92. Print.

As I was reading the highlights and notes I wrote in the book for this, I kept thinking of the digital presentations my second semester fyc course does. It seemed like juxtaposition would help make those more interesting. I may write about that more later…

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“Any object, feeling, odor, word, image in juxtaposition with any other object, feeling, word or image will be associated with it” (Burroughs qtd in Rice 73).

“Douglas Engelbart proposed that juxtaposition be the focal point of writing with computers” (Rice 73).

McLuhan thought composition should include juxtaposition, because it promised depth of involvement and expression (Rice 74).

“the idea that disturbances motivate new media writing” (Rice 74)
I noted Lauer’s preference for dissonance here–and many other places in the text.

Kaleidoscope clip ShD orig by Koperczak releasedkaleidoscope approach

We do not want simple. We want interesting. (Rice 76)
Juxtaposition helps create/provide/reveal that.

“Trimbur and George proceed to highlight the field’s declining interest in those elements that comprise communications studies, like media studies” (Rice 77).
We are definitely coming back to this, though.

[standard] research paper results from organization into linear argument (Rice 78)

outline organization contrasts with juxtaposition (Rice 79)

“layers of text and image, may be removed and added to at any given moment within the composing process” (Rice 79)

“The real job of the computer is not retrieval but discovery. Like the human memory, the process of recall is an act of discovery” (McLuhan, Hot and Cool, 294, qtd in Rice 81).

“notions of individual authorship belongs more to premises native to print” (Rice 82)

“New media extends writers’ sense and observations outside of self” (Rice 82)

“composition studies still legitimizes the sequentiality of thought” (Rice 82)

“[in print media] that which cannot be classified or categorized does not belong in the writing” (Rice 83)

“outline’s function is meant to situate invention” (Rice 83)
Really? Wow. Not for me.

“writing proceeds based on that initial vision or goal. Anything not initially conceived as relevant to one’s purpose should be discarded” (Rice 83).
That is not how I think of writing, but I do wonder if that is how my students think of writing. This belief/attitude may be one reason why I am willing to wait for a well-crafted thesis till towards the end of the writing process for a paper, rather than creating a “research question” thesis statement at the beginning. Or, of course, it could be that I misunderstand how crafting a thesis works for other people.

Regarding hypertext, Rice says it is a process that is “meant to forge associations” (83), as opposed to being preplanned.

“the nature of print is closed” (Rice 83)

“the link’s ability to join a variety of authorial positions” (Rice 83)
This caught my attention for T&P reasons. When you create a blog post, then linking others extends your own authority or adds to the ethos with credibility from other sources. I wonder how much of this is useful/usable in the T&P online portfolio.

When I was first reading the quote above, I thought of the students’ digital presentations. Now, I am having trouble remembering why I thought the authorial positions in particular was relevant. I will have to think about that and add it to the discussion on this chapter for digital presentations.

“print-based emphasis on theses or topic sentences” (Rice 84)
I do like/recommend these, for academic writing.

Rice says theses are “restrictive” and act almost like miniature outlines (84).
I call them maps to the paper, in case I get lost in the direction the student was intending to take.

“[t]he potential of opening up writing to discovery and invention” (Rice 84).
He is talking about Nelson on hypertext, but I think that this is what juxtapositions can offer the students and what–when they are done at the same time/together–digital composing with/for the research paper offers. It is part of why I fiddled again this semester with when the paper and digital presentations are due.

“When writers expand connections, when they begin to include a variety of material into the writing process…, writers begin as well to move beyond immediate controlling situations” (Rice 85).

He then says they often discover conflicts–what Lauer encouraged as dissonance, I think.

George Landow “The Paradigm Is More Important than the Purchase” argues that “new media shapes educational outlooks and pedagogical positions” (Rice 85).

“web of information one encounters in media where juxtapositions not only foreground conflict but make finding one conclusion to a situation conflicted as well” (Rice 86).

“[J]uxtapositions are meant to introduce conflict as a response to information and cultural overloads” (Rice 86).
This is Lauer again, but it was not comfortable for me and I am still unsure how I would go about teaching it. –I think it might be interesting, but I would work on this in an Advanced Composition course, rather than a freshman writing course, at least at first, because (one hopes) advanced comp writers already have a standard repertoire and can use a little shaking up without becoming totally lost. That way, if it didn’t work like Rice says, or I couldn’t figure out how to explain/teach/model it for students, we could throw it out without ruining the work of a semester.

“radical innovations proposed by Engelbart or by Nelson… conflicts Bourroughs suggests… are all central to new media rhetoric” (Rice 87)

Geoffrey Sic, English Composition p. 18 “pedagogy as dare” (Rice 87)

DJs and hypertext “strive to forge connections among disparate material through various types of appropriations and juxtapositions” (Rice 87).

metaphors, “importants of assemblages,” samples (Rice 88)

“tops of digital sampling” (Rice 89)
“digital sampling extends itself rhetorically so that the tops transforms into the remix” (Rice 89)

“Writing does reorganize and rework source material… yet writing also strings together found compositions based on the intricate ways each connects or doesn’t connect with the others” (Rice 89)

metaphor? “confusing whirlwind… inciting discomfort” (Rice 90)

“translate the theoretical principles of composition to a pedagogy appropriate for digital writing” (Rice 91)
“produce a writing composed of juxtapositions. It would be, therefore, performative” (Rice 91).


Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 3 Appropriation

by Dr Davis on April 15, 2014

Rice, Jeff. “Appropriation.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 47-72.


Summary: Appropriation is a rhetorical tool or topos or action to re-create a new thing. Those within the dominant culture may appropriate something, like the definition of cool, and create a new meaning for this. Appropriation of music, re-mixing and mashups, doesn’t create the same thing that was there before but instead re-creates a new thing. Writing is seen as ending in balance or that balance/coherence is necessary; Rice argues that appropriation is necessary to the digital age and the end result may not be balanced or coherent, may not follow a hierarchical organization plan, may not be easy to follow. Appropriation uses parataxis (rearranging items to generate different meanings from them–with each rearrangement, new meanings emerge).

“[W]hen working with appropriation, it’s not enough to simply cut or rearrange words or images. Writers also must reimagine the logic of structure as well…” (Rice 58).
I wonder what this means for an online T&P portfolio. Rice stresses that the digital is not (or should not? be hierarchical), so as I compose for the T&P, should I be working on making something less like a binder of doom and more like a ferris wheel? If I do that, would the committee reviewing the work see it as an advancement in writing–as a legitimate rhetorical move–or would they view it as chaotic, since it would not conform to their expectations nor to previous examples. Would it be a risky move? Should I try it and explain it or not try it and not explain it or try it and not explain it?

Rice argues that appropriation should not be applied to the structure we already know but should find for itself new structures. He doesn’t say that, but it is what he says.

“preference for clarity via organization… weakens appropriation’s rhetorical power” (Rice 59).

Metaphor for appropriation =/= coherence
= collage

cites and discusses William S. Burroughs quite a bit

Appropriation recontextualizes, thus it can be used to undermine the dominant culture as well as to prop it up… depending on how the appropriation is used.

“Academic scholarship turns to appropriation … to learn the methods of persuasion conducive to new media” (Rice 61).

point of using appropriation in classroom = “foster new ways of restructuring language and thought” (Rice 62).

misc_masksHow To
re-mix (music term), cut-up (Burroughs’ term), appropriate (scholarly term)

“As a writing strategy, its purpose is to undermine the dominant ideology of a given text” (Rice 63).

sound, imagery, words, ideas important to writers today (not always?) (Rice 64)

How to synthesize vast quantities of discourse? Sample. (Rice 65)

“digital sampler as an important tool” (Rice 67)
“writing that responds to and makes use of the work of others” (Harris 578 as qtd in Rice 67)

Cecil B. Williams and Alan Stevenson said sampling will help students determine if a work is in the center of a conversation or on the edge. I asked why. Is it because they will see (possibly) that other people are talking about totally different things? Is it because if everyone else is talking about it then it is essential? I can see how it might help, but I think it would depend on the amount of sampling and most folks won’t do enough.

composition incorporating found material is rhetorical innovation (Rice 68)

digital composition undermines traditional authorial constructs (Rice 68)

“appropriation as mix signifies more than just borrowing text” (Rice 69)

appropriation extends beyond writing to personality, alter ego, construction of identity (Rice 69ff)


Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 2 Chora

by Dr Davis on April 14, 2014

Rice, Jeff. “Chora.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 30-46. Print.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“Chora,” as a chapter, begins and ends with example. The opening example is his attempt to understand 1963 outside of written texts on rhetorical history. He looks at iconic representations of 1963 and discovers JFK’s assassination (my main public association) and MLK Jr’s “I Have a Dream” (which I didn’t know was given in 1963), which he expands to include the cool of James Dean, James Brown’s music, and American Graffiti.

Basically, he took “cool” and looked for where and how it was used. The topos driven ad imagery of cool was young, fashion related, hip, popular, and rebellious (31). Rice takes Aristotle’s place and offers the internet as the organizing principle (is that right idea?). What things does he discover about cool by surfing around for it?

Looking at cool this way re-structures what is cool. He cites Gregory Ulmer’s Heuretics: The Logic of Invention and says that we can expand our writing by using all the meanings.

Chora teaches “how to make connections” (Rice 35).

Rice says both readers and writers are participatory within chora as it is created on the internet. Hypertextual links allow/require the reader to engage and linearity is limited. (This is the connection I was attempting to make with my Old English Readings course when we were reading the bestiaries, particularly the works online: Aberdeen Bestiary and the Book of Kells.)

I also noted in the margin that this is the practice/push for the new Tenure and Promotion packages scholars at my university must create; the T&P “binders of doom” have been replaced by a blog with links and images. On a related and somewhat discursive note, I wondered why they had not just adopted iBooks as our T&P production method. But iBooks may actually provide/force more linearity than they wanted. I guess I will find out as I work on my non-linear T&P portfolio online this summer particularly.

Through his embedded invention discussion, he prioritizes the digital because it was online that he sought and found the streams of competing and complementing ideas of cool.

Rice mentions (rather than discusses, because there is limited development) an assignment he has given his students. It comes, or has come, in two iterations. In one, he asks students to find a word in their discipline, their field of study, to research and see all the different ways that word is used.

Come to think of it, that is very much like what I am doing with this study.

The other option is to examine all the courses the student is taking that semester and find a single word that is involved in all of them and investigate that.


A Reminder

by Dr Davis on April 13, 2014

Just to remind myself why I am taking the time to write all my notes here (and bore most of you to tears, no doubt!)… I suggested a scholarship program of readings in the rhetoric of new media, particularly the visual aspects, and in relation to the digital presentations (videos) that I have had my students preparing.

Christine de Pizan in her study cellRice’s next chapter is particularly germane, but really I am putting these online so that I don’t have to search through my hard drive for them. I just today found a treasure box of 54 articles that I had stuffed into a file (in my teaching folder for some reason, rather than my reading folder) and while that list is daunting (in addition to all the notes I still have to transcribe), at least it is a computer file and I will be able to take it with me to the British Isles this summer and work on it there as well.

I meant to keep track of the hours I have put into this project, but somewhere after 29 I forgot. So now I don’t know. I am sure that I will be at 135 by the time I finish all the transcriptions, but I may interrupt those for some of the other articles.

I’m hoping that re-writing will make meaning out of all these ideas and pull them together. If not, I will be in the position one of my students mentioned to me earlier when he said that while he had a lot of readings, they hadn’t really pulled together in any particular way… For him, I was able to suggest an organizational strand. Perhaps as I put these here, an organizational pattern will become clear to me as well.