Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Chair/Advisor

Jordan Frith

Committee Member

Michelle Smith

Committee Member

Danielle Herro

Committee Member

Darren Linvill


Inventing Network Composition: Mobilizing Rhetorical Invention and Social Media for Digital Pedagogy investigates how students learn through writing and invention in digital social networks. Pursuing a primary research question of How do student composers invent within networked social media environments?, the dissertation examines how social media and digital writing tools can help students to learn, connect, and share generatively. The core theoretical contribution that this dissertation offers is a theory of network composition, which is a mode of invention that composers engage in social media environments that is intensely social, that is structured by a digital interface, that is interactive and participatory, and that incorporates linguistic, visual, sonic, and other multimodal communication forms. Network composition manifests most notably in network composition pedagogy, which organically locates the work of composing, as well as the disciplinary work of rhetoric and composition, within networked social media environments.

This dissertation revisits and updates disciplinary exigencies related to rhetorical invention in digital networks, social media use in the writing classroom, and digital participation as a mode for learning. The dissertation offers an updated approach to invention called network-emergent rhetorical invention that approaches invention as a distributed emergence arising from a network of actants that includes humans, hardware, technologies, interfaces, communities, cultures, software, and infrastructures. It also features an IRB-approved qualitative case study that finds social media to support learning ecology formation, distributed expertise, rhetorical invention, digital and social media literacy development, rhetoric and writing skills formation, and digital citizenship activities. The dissertation additionally examines challenges for social media use in the writing classroom, considering how accessibility, digital aggression, digital discrimination, and data/privacy challenges can and should be navigated. The dissertation closes by speculating about futures for network composition and considering what is at stake for the future of learning, interaction, and participation in digital networks.

Author ORCID Identifier 0000-0003-4541-033X



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