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on speech and media

This is becoming a bit of a recurring theme here. So, the first amendment… what ontological commitments are invested in the first amendment? what material-historical values regarding rhetoric? what understanding of media technologies is embedded here? Let’s start with the last question. Obviously there was writing and the printing press. Far less than half of […]

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Current Affairs digital rhetoric

speech, freedom, and the crunchy frogs of social media platforms

The removal of Trump from various social media platforms has been big news, as is the de-platforming of Parler by Apple, Google, and Amazon. There’s a lot of conversation about this in relation to the first amendment. I’m not a constitutional law expert, so I’m not going to focus here on the strictly legal aspect. […]

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Current Affairs new materialism

the assemblage of white populations

As you probably learned in high school or college, the different races of humans with which we identify today have no biological basis but are social constructions. A brief refresher on the matter is here. Basically though there are few starting points for this construction. One occurs in the 17th century when American colonists decide […]

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Assemblage Theory new materialism

the politics of a molecular people: two paragraphs from A Thousand Plateaus

Material thus has three principal characteristics: it is a molecularized matter; it has a relation to forces to be harnessed; and it is defined by the operations of consistency applied to it. Finally, it is clear that the relation to the earth and the people has changed, and is no longer of the romantic type. […]

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Assemblage Theory digital rhetoric

user populations and the capacities of smartphones

In the new materialist approach I take up, all assemblages (i.e. all people, groups of people, animals, plants, things, objects, etc.) have properties, tendencies, and capacities. Properties are singular and historical. For example, my smartphone (an iPhone XS) has its own unique history. To butcher a line, “there are many iPhones but this one is […]

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digital rhetoric

media archeology is ordinary

Yes, it’s a play on Raymond Williams. Of course he was mostly suggesting that “Culture” was not solely the territory of a particular well-educated and wealthy class of Brits. Cultural studies was and is a highly technical and esoteric set of theories, methods, and discourses, and the apparatuses of the culture industry are elitist and […]

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Assemblage Theory new materialism

new materialist user populations and rhetoric

I sometimes wonder what scholars in the field of rhetoric think new materialism is. [n.b. Don’t expect a comprehensive answer here!] I’d wager that there are maybe dozens but certainly not hundreds of rhetoric scholars who view it in a positive/interested enough way to pursue it. I’d equally wager there are as many, if not […]

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Current Affairs electrate politics

the meager agency of human individuals

Our culture has a broad understanding of free will. It’s based upon religion, cultural values, and our lived experience of decision-making. At the same time, we all know that a newborn left alone in the wilderness cannot survive. A toddler cannot survive alone. Indeed so few of us can survive alone, even as adults, that […]

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Current Affairs electrate politics

ontological quagmires in American politics

[N.b., to be fair, these challenges do not apply solely to us, but that’s where my focus will be.] For Thanksgiving, David Brooks brought us a casserole dish on the “rotting of the Republican mind.” It put me in mind of another article I read recently on the relationship between evangelical Christians and conspiracy theories […]

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electrate politics

social media assemblages and “misinformation”

At its core, a new materialist digital rhetoric tells us that media/information is made accessible, strong, and durable through human-nonhuman assemblages in digital media ecologies. This is a basic insight from Latour, DeLanda, and others. To expand briefly on this core: there is a reality in which we participate; part of that participation is our […]