A green cutting mat with craft paper and scissors

Chapter 1. Craft Agency: An Ethics for New Materialist Rhetorics

Making Matters's central argument is that through "recasting new materialist rhetorics as craft," "we can more clearly articulate how the diverse material assemblages that create rhetoric can be both ethically aware and politically effective" (Gruwell, 2022, p. 39). To begin this work, the chapter provides an overview of new materialist rhetoric with an awareness of how craft enhances existing new materialist approaches.

Leigh Gruwell (2022) notes that new materialist rhetoric needs to address questions of power and ethics and that craft agency, "the material intra-actions from which rhetorical agency emerges" (p. 35), provides a way to do this work. Gruwell uses craft because, like new materialist rhetoric, craft views agency as emergent "from intra-actions between human and nonhuman, digital and material, entities" and craft is "entangled," recognizing that "how we make" is connected to who we are and what we're making (p. 14).

Such connections apply to community cookbooks, which are recipe collections generally compiled by women as fundraising tools for churches, schools, and social organizations (Bower, 1997). The curators solicit community recipes and include local advertisements and aphorisms to circulate the creators' values (Mastrangelo, 2015). Craft agency applies to these texts as the material object (the cookbook) gives the creator rhetorical agency as readers interact with and make recipes.

To develop craft agency, Gruwell explains that it is a term that "sees agents as both wide-ranging and materially specific" and aligns with feminist theory and praxis through reciprocity and equal power dynamics (p. 15). The three case studies in the chapters that follow demonstrate this commitment to reciprocity, power relationships, and the way digital and material artifacts are used to make change by drawing attention to the criticisms associated with the time required to craft (Chapter 3), access to technology (Chapter 4), and a lack of diverse representation in protests (Chapter 5).