Blue Net

Chapter One: Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric


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In Chapter One: Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric, Douglas Eyman created an opening for digital rhetoric; his exigencies were to establish a not-yet-established field. Eyman’s exploration of digital rhetoric expanded in multiple direactions. In one sense, the mapping was spatial—its positionalities were located in relation to intersecting subjects, including digital literacy, visual rhetoric, new media, human-computer interaction, critical code studies, digital humanities, and internet studies, and the “competing terms” electric, computational, and technorhetoric (p. 41).

In another avenue, the mapping was temporal—Eyman traced the trajectory of traditional rhetoric from its origins in Western classical rhetoric to medieval and Renaissance, Enlightenment, and contemporary theories. In addition, he uncovered the origins of digital rhetoric as it evolved from George Landow's earlier notions of hypertext, to James Zappen’s call for an integrated theory, to more recent applications by Barbara Warnick, Ian Bogost, Elizabeth Losh, and others.

In yet another dimension, the mapping was conceptual —Eyman interlocated the terms digital, text, and rhetoric in an intricate interplay: as he wrote, the digital “provides a bridge between textual production (broadly defined to include multimedia) and rhetoric,” which is then linked to texts that “encode human knowledge and memory” (p. 20). In other words, the digital connects and facilitates interactions between the textual and the rhetorical.

Continue to Chapter One Implications.