Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Advisor

Vitanza, Victor J

Committee Member

Barnett , Scot

Committee Member

Feeser , Andrea

Committee Member

May , Todd

Abstract

This dissertation redefines the rhetorical canon of delivery by drawing on interdisciplinary theories of technology and materiality, including hardware and software studies, assemblage theory, and actor-network theory. Rhetorical theorists and composition scholars have correctly equated the technological medium with delivery, but also have focused exclusively on the circulation of symbolic forces rather than the persuasive agency of technology itself, thus eliding the affordances and constraints posed by technological actors at the non-symbolic levels of hardware, software, protocol, and algorithms. I establish a historical precedent in classical theorists such as Demosthenes, Cicero, and Quintilian that acknowledges their understanding of the role of nonhuman actors in rhetoric. In contrast to contemporary views of an active human subject using a passive technological object to achieve a communicative aim, I extend these classical understandings of materiality by articulating a vision of technological agency where rhetorical agency and delivery are equally distributed across human and nonhuman actors and assemblages. This account of delivery enables rhetorical scholars to study how material artifacts and writing technologies circulate, transform, and affect rhetorical consequences as they enter into various associations and shape emergent political publics. Through new media case studies from activist newsgame designers and algorithmic art, I establish a form of multimodal public writing that reconceives of political community building in networked spaces as a process that necessarily involves the consideration of procedural, protocological, and algorithmic rhetorics and literacies. By examining how delivery occurs through a complex ecological and material milieu, I define a more nuanced theoretical framework that allows rhetoricians and composition theorists to more productively address the various non-symbolic aspects of digital rhetoric and nonhuman agency that increasingly serve as a condition of possibility for the ways we learn to write and communicate today

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