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digital rhetoric Digital Scholarship

Rhetorics of the Digital Nonhumanities

Available from Southern Illinois University Press, January 2022

“Digital rhetoric, both as practice and inquiry, is at a crossroads. Beset on all sides by social, cultural, political, and economic forces, we have struggled to keep pace with, much less intervene in, our media ecologies. Rhetorics of the Digital Nonhumanities is an indispensable contribution to our efforts in dealing productively and ethically with the digital.”—Collin Gifford Brooke, author of Lingua Fracta: Towards a Rhetoric of New Media 

“Alex Reid remakes the digital humanities as a rhetorical enterprise. Updating takes on electracy through new materialist theories and actor network methodologies, this book works through a series of rhetorical topoi for contemporary digitality. Essential reading for digital rhetorics, new material rhetorics, and postprocess composition.”—Byron Hawk, author of Resounding the Rhetorical: Composition as a Quasi-Object

In this book, author Alex Reid fashions a potent vocabulary from new materialist theory, media theory, postmodern theory, and digital rhetoric to rethink the connections between humans and digital media. Addressed are the familiar concerns that scholars have with digital culture: how technologies affect attention spans, how digital media are used to compose, and how digital rhetoric is taught. 

Rhetoric is now regularly defined as including human and nonhuman actors. Each actor influences the thoughts, arguments, and sentiments that journey through systems of processors, algorithms, humans, air, and metal. Reid’s arguments, although unnerving, orient rhetorical practices to a more open, deliberate, and attentive awareness of what we are truly capable of and how we become capable. This volume moves beyond viewing digital media as an expression of human agency. Humans, as collectives of user populations, must negotiate rather than make commands in digital media ecologies.

Chapters centralize the most pressing questions: How do social media algorithms affect our judgment? How do smart phones shape our attention? These questions demand a scholarly practice for attending to the world around us. They demand we embrace digital nonhuman composition. Once we see this brave new world, Reid argues, we must engage with it.

Alex Reid, an associate professor of media study at SUNY Buffalo, is the author of The Two Virtuals: New Media and Composition and coeditor of Design Discourse: Composing and Revising Programs in Professional and Technical Writing The author also maintains an award-winning blog, Digital Digs.

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