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Exhuming the Corpse

Our digital corpses, through Jane Bennett’s and Bruno Latour’s ideas about network theory, are given agency by our actions in their memorial pages. As Bennett (2010) argued, the “confederation of human and nonhuman elements” (p. 21) that make up these networks of communication and identification are simultaneously how we interact with our dead online and how we inevitably compliment, complicate, and sometimes manipulate their legacies. We, as mourners, shape how others (including fellow mourners) view our deceased loved ones after death. We, a network of actors (human and non-) are re-creating our dead, crafting for them––out of our memories––an agency that unfortunately they no longer have a say in. This is our networked agency, but it is also one small step towards an agential corpse.

This collection begins with mourning in social media, moves into memorialization and internment, then considers digital legacies. While engaging in an intensely modern, metaphysical, and multimodal debate, the author still managed to move us through their pages, positing research questions to be taken up across disciplines, as the contributors themselves come from extremely varied backgrounds. The corpse takes on new forms and challenges conceptions of its rhetorical capacity with each page. For anyone in the study of non-canonical or nontraditional rhetoric, this collection is a must. For anyone who believes there is something beyond the grave, this book shows that we not only need to investigate these spaces but also prepare ourselves for them. We need to prepare our digital legacies. In this way, it is the perfect book for Kairos readers, especially those who seek to explore the dialectic between technology and pedagogy across disciplines, across media, across time.


For More Information: Digital Death Facebook Page



Bennett, Jane. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Moreman, Christopher M., & A. Davis Lewis. (Eds.). (2014). Digital death: Mortality and beyond in the online age. Santa Barbra, CA: Praeger.

Black, Victoria [Vickie666]. (2011). Cemetery. deviantART. Retrieved July 15, 2017, from https://vickie666.deviantart.com/art/Cemetery-251050560