In Non-Discursive Rhetoric, Joddy Murray attempts to re-frame composition within a comprehensive philosophy of mind, a philosophy founded on the concept of image.

To do this, Murray draws on twentieth-century philosophers and psychologists of language (including Cassirer, Langer, Bakhtin, and Vygotsky) and twenty-first century neuroscientists (especially Damasio). Using these theories, Murray maps how composition relates to language and cognition, affect and symbolization, imagination, perception, and even consciousness itself.

The book's title—which seems to suggest a focus on the production of digital, multimodal texts—does not capture the true scope of Murray's inquiry. In later chapters, Murray does begin building upward, sketching some implications for composing practices. For most of the book, however, Murray points his gaze downward, foundation-ward, as he works to assemble a first-floor framework of concepts and connections.

Scholars of visual and multimodal composition currently lack this sort of theoretical foundation, Murray claims. To justify their work, these scholars need more than a momentary exigence—more than a rationale that explains why images or computers or videos are important within our particular, passing moment. Rather, these scholars need to investigate “the way image works in the brain and mind” to create meaning (p. 74). Understanding how image, symbol, language, thought, feeling, consciousness, utterance, and meaning all fit together, we enrich our understanding of all texts—whether they are alphabetical, visual, or multimodal; oral, written, or digital; historical or contemporary; discursive or non-discursive.