Approaches to Digital Rhetoric #513dr

Digital rhetoric is more of a disciplinary nebula than a field. We can gather as much from James Zappen, who summarizes it as “an amalgam of more-or-less discrete components rather than a complete and integrated theory in its own right” (323). And while Liz Losh takes some issue with this description, she also observes that digital rhetoric “operates at number of different registers and includes messages to, from, and within the personal, the governmental, the academic, and the scientific public spheres” (95). Since the publications of these summations, Zappen, Losh, and a great many others have continued to work around, in, and with digital rhetoric. This proliferation has resulted in lively, ongoing conversations in academic journals and online about aspects and issues of digital rhetoric. The following assignment provides an opportunity to explore this conversation and to read deeper a couple of articles that you find compelling or engaging. 


The Assignment

 1. Browse various journals and find two articles you think are worth deeper, more attentive reading. Here are some of the best sources for digital rhetoric work:

Check out different issues and volumes of these journals in order to get a sense of the breadth and depth of their coverage, the kinds of issues they tackle, and the approaches they adopt. In time, hone in on two articles that resonate with you, that you find worth reading and sharing. 

2. Read your chosen, primary articles with care and thoroughness. Then, prepare a response of at least 1000 words to the articles and address these questions:

  1. What is the context of the journal or publication? Who publishes it? Who is the primary audience?
  2. What particular scholarly conversation or debate is the article intervening in? That is, what previous findings or theories is this article attempting to refute, refine, or broaden? How do you know?
  3. What is the central claim or question of the article?
  4. What’s at stake in the article? Why is the finding important and what are its implications?
  5. What is your response to the article’s argument? Do you find it persuasive, unpersuasive, interesting, uninteresting? What part of the article seems the least convincing and what part makes the strongest case?
  6. What methodological approach does the researcher take? What kind of disciplines does he or she draw from? Can you imagine another approach to the same issues and questions?
  7. What questions come to mind as you read the article?
  8. How does the article’s claims give you traction for your own interests? Are there ways to play off, build upon, or refute the argument?


Be sure to include a full citation for each article at the beginning of your response (including the URL). Your response is due as a page by Tuesday, January 17, 2012.