My research focuses on the intersection of rhetorical theory, ethics, technology and pedagogy. Developed across 17 total publications and 21 conference presentations, I argue that the increasing power and ubiquity of digital technologies calls for us to rethink both the obligations of rhetoric and our discipline’s pedagogic methods. What unites all these disparate projects is their concern for promoting a rhetorical orientation to alterity rooted in notions of hospitality, reinvigorating scholarly interaction with public spheres, promoting the affordances of digital communication technologies, and treating students as “others” whose needs cannot be entirely anticipated before the classroom encounter.
Works in Progress
“Postpedagogy, Gamification, and sf0”
In this piece I explore the overlaps between postpedagogy and Ian Bogost’s procedural analysis of video games. In short, Bogost argues that video games operate ideologically at a level “below” consciousness and beyond narrative–they operate at a level of “doing.” I believe this non-critical, ideological action makes games an interesting vehicle for postpedagogical, postcritical intervention–challenging student ideology in a non-direct, non-confrontational manner. I build this definition of postpedagogy from Ulmer, Rickert, and Kopelson. I turn to the online alternate-reality game sf0 as a prototype for how to enact postpedagogical, post-critical engagement.
“Rhetoric, Ethics, and Listening”
I draw a relationship between rhetoric, ethics, and listening, differentiating a sense of listening from the one offered by Krista Ratcliffe in Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, and Whiteness. While I appreciate her project, I suggest another–and I hope complementary–way to think of the scope, purpose, and place of listening within rhetoric. I equate listening with Emmanuel Levinas’s notion of passivity read across Jim Corder’s notion of identification, which itself frames subjectivity in terms of “narrative.” I want to suggest that listening is persuasion’s Other, an other to which rhetorical studies seems to maintain an allergy.
Works Published and Accepted for Publication
The works below are either already published or have been accepted for publication.
“Toward a Technical Communication Made Whole: Creativity, Postpedagogy, and Professional and Technical Communication”
With Megan M. McIntyre
Accepted to Composition Forum. Anticipated publication, spring 2016.
This piece describes the pedagogical approach adopted by Megan and I in our undergraduate courses for USF’s Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology major. Our approach emphasizes the importance, and difficulty, of developing creativity and autonomy. We offer a broad definition of postpedagogy for those in Tech Comm, distinguishing it from Dobrin’s postcomposition and from Lynch’s characterization of postpedagogy in After Teaching. Finally, we share student responses to working in a postpedagogical environment and make suggestions for instructors who want to incorporate postpedagogical methods into their classrooms.
“Uncrossing God: How Levinas’s Ethics Might Contribute to Latour’s Politics”
Philosophy and Rhetoric 48.3 (2015): 313-337
In “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam,” Bruno Latour wonders whether academia, particularly the humanities, can rethink its dedication to critique and cultivate an ethos that cares. In this essay I explicate two interrelated concerns I have regarding Latour’s commendable project. First, I wonder whether Latour recognizes the extent of the violence inherent in his collective project. Second, I wonder whether his commitment to Enlightenment without Modernity, particularly his allergy to transcendence, inhibits his ability to transform critique into care. For Latour, transcendence makes impossible the due process of his proposed collective and the corresponding practice of real world politics precisely because it dangles a Truth beyond compromise. While Latour finds notions of a transcendence in terms of a beyond as a precursor to terror, Levinas finds terror in the practice of philosophy without the disequilibrium transcendence can bring. Thus, I argue that Levinas offers Latour a way to uncross God that posits the beyond as something other than ineffectually and debilitatingly distant, as something that can inspire us to care.
“Maira Kalman and/as Choric Invention”
Co-authored with Ella Browning.
Enculturation 18 (2014)
We place artist and writer Maira Kalman in conversation with contemporary Rhetoric and Composition scholarship concerning choric invention, a notion of invention opposed to the static, topical heuristics that dominate rhetoric’s history. Kalman repeatedly linked her creative process to specific locales and idiosyncratic experiences, highlighting the significance and unpredictability of serendipity. We believe her emphasis on subjective experience, the power of place, and serendipity mark her inventive approach as choric. The article’s final section shares and analyzes student projects rooted in Kalman’s process.
“From Constituting to Instituting: Kant, Latour, and Twitter”
Co-authored with Meredith Johnson.
Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition. Eds. Lynch and Rivers. SIUP (205).
We argue that the university cannot enact Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution without both reconsidering its commitment to Kant’s resolutions and rewarding the role digital technologies could play in inviting dialogue between academics and the public. At the same time, however, Latour and those committed to his goals need recognize the political hazards that arise as one dismantles the separation of school and state. Kant’s Modern Constitution, developed in intellectually dangerous times, sacrificed public participation in order to secure political protection. While we agree with Latour that the time has come to reinvest in politics, we want to stress that, given the increasing impingement of conservative economic and political influence on education, academics need to tread carefully.
“Postpedagogy and Web Writing”
With Mark H. Leahy.
Published in Computers and Composition 32 (2014): 84-95.
Collaborative digital tools, online communities, and the evolution of literacy create opportunities in which writing for an English class and writing for the “real” world no longer have to be two separate activities. Seizing such opportunities requires rethinking the desire to teach writing—a move toward what has been termed postpedagogy. We align the interactive and collaborative affordances of web writing with a postpedagogical model of learning focused on inventive practices grounded in kairotic interactions. We also detail our candid experiences working with students who are writing for real world audiences, as well as the productive risks and anxieties such an approach produces.
“Our Electrate Stories: Explicating Ulmer’s Mystory Genre”
With Ella R. Bieze, Lauren E. Cagle, Jason Carabelli, Zachary P. Dixon, Kristen N. Gay, Sarah Beth Hopton, Megan M. McIntyre.
Published in Kairos 18.2 (Spring 2014)
This webtext details seven graduate students’ experiences with Gregory L. Ulmer’s (2003) Internet Invention, a textbook geared for inventing methodologies and values for our new, digital era. Students enrolled in a New Media Production graduate seminar at the University of South Florida were given 9 weeks to complete Ulmer’s “mystory” project. We further explicate Ulmer’s concept of electracy and identify the core goals of the mystory, exploring its complicated, postpedagogical connections to James Berlin’s (1988) characterizations of expressivism and social-epistemic rhetoric. Because Ulmer’s mystory lays the ethical, deconstructive groundwork for agonistic, political action, our electracy section concludes by aligning the mystory with contemporary rhetorical projects centered around the prioritization of the other.
“Rhetoric and Ethics, Metaphysics and Alterity.”
Review Essay. Published in JAC 31.3-4 (2011) 771-782.
I review Davis’s explication of how Levinas’s ethics both opens new ways of conceptualizing rhetorical agency and complicates traditional notions of law and justice. Then, in accordance with the deconstructive-ethical method developed by Davis, I offer two responses. My first response is to he chapter “P.S. on Humanism,” in which Davis, following Derrida, pulls out the anthropocentric rug from under Levinas’s feet. My second response, a response not only to Davis, but also to Levinas, asks whether writing–even misunderstood poststructurally as any form of inscription–can ever be(come) ethical (hint: my answer is “no.”). What ties my two responses together is a question on the extent to which (Heideggerian/Derridean) deconstruction and (Levinasian) ethics can operate harmoniously together, or whether the relation between them operates according to the distinction between the Law and the laws central to Derrida’s reading of Levinas and, in turn, Davis’s relation of Levinas to rhetorical agency.
“How the Internet Saved My Daughter and How Social Media Saved My Family”
his installation is a personal and cathartic engagement with my initial inability to cope with my daughter’s cancer. [Note P] It details events that began in August of 2008 and concluded, in a sense, in February of 2009. I offer it with hopes of helping digitally-oriented rhetoric and composition scholars “determin[e] a should for a we” (Patricia Sullivan & James E. Porter, 1997, p.103). How should we approach pedagogy in the early 21st century? My tentative answer is to approach it less with aims of “constructing knowledge” and more with hopes of “negotiating encounters.”
I draw upon the work of Jim Corder and, to a lesser extent, Emmanuel Levinas and Alphonso Lingis. Such works speak to the dialogic potential of 21st century technologies, offering us robust theories that emphasize the human need for, and potential disruption caused by, others and their narratives. I want to use these theories and my own traumatic experiences—what Corder will identify as challenges to my narrative—to question what is fast becoming a commonplace among digital humanists: that social media sites, particularly Facebook, are fueled by and further fuel humanity’s worst narcissistic tendencies. Where this critique locates narcissism as a cause, I will instead argue that digital technologies might awaken desire for something missing from atomistic modern life; they rekindle a desire for others. What might appear as narcissism could be attending to the abyss, and a new, distributed form of loquacious huddling.
“Productive Mess: First-Year Composition Takes the University’s Agonism Online”
With Nathaniel A. Rivers and Ryan P. Weber.
Published in Kairos 13.2 (2009)
This webtext describes a pilot course that united four first-year composition courses around shared readings and online discussion addressing the physical and virtual university. The goal of the pilot was to foster previously impossible student interactions by exploring how discrete discussion roles shaped interaction and reputations among students.
“Saving Ourselves: Further Psychoanalytic Investigation of Resident Evil and Silent Hill”
With Sarah E. White.
Published in Gamasutra’s Game Career Guide 30 Jan 2007.
“Appealing the Divide: Logos, Ethos, and Contemporary American Presidential Campaign Rhetoric”
Published in Rhetoric Society of America Biannual Conference Proceedings. Ed. David Zarefsky. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2007.
“Playing With Ourselves: A Psychoanalytic Investigation of Resident Evil and Silent Hill”
With Sarah E. White.
Published in Digital Gameplay: Essays on the Nexis of Game and Gamer. Ed. Nate Garrelts. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Press, 2005.