Research Agenda

If we follow disciplinary habits of tracing disciplinary-defined causes through to the corresponding disciplinary-defined effects, we will miss all the crucial intra-actions among these factors that fly in the face of any specific set of disciplinary concerns.
— Karen Barad, "Posthumanist Performativity"
Bruno Latour by m.e.g

Bruno Latour by m.e.g

My research articulates rhetorical activity beyond the model of rhetoric as discrete, autonomous human individuals engaging in rational, discursive deliberation. Rhetoric has traditionally been concerned with both agents and agencies: our abilities to move others to action by means of persuasion. Historically, this “our” has been human and this “persuasion” has been symbolic or discursive. That is, rhetoric is people getting other people to do things by means of speech, writing, and other forms of symbolic action (e.g., music and math). Recent work in rhetorical theory has begun to question this basic understanding of rhetoric. Following what we might call a new materialist turn in rhetoric (which resonates with similar turns in literary studies, philosophy, political science, and sociology), I am increasingly interested in ecological rhetorics wherein rhetoric is produced between and among bodies, human and nonhuman, through both discursive and non-discursive activity. In short, what is the place of the nonhuman and the non-symbolic in the work of persuasion? More specifically, my research addresses new materialism’s impact on areas of rhetorical theory such as environmentalism, technology, and public rhetoric. I recently published a short piece on infrastructure, Google Maps, and art that serves as a representative anecdote of this work.

To feed this interest, I’ve renewed my relationship with the work of Bruno Latour and forged new research relationships with work in new materialism (e.g., Jane Bennett, Karen Barad) and science and technology studies (STS) (e.g., Annemarie Mol, John Law, Andrew Pickering). Several recent publications have operationalized this research for traditional rhetorical concerns. I am at work on two, related book projects. The first, titled Geocomposition, describes and reflects upon a pedagogy of rhetoric and composition designed to explore how writing and rhetoric move and how this movement shapes both rhetorical activity and the locations it inhabits. The primary goal of geocomposition is to write on the move in order to compose the multiple layers of public places. The second, titled The Strange Defense of Rhetoric, articulates Bruno Latour and Richard Lanham in arguing that rhetoric and its key terms (e.g., kairos, attention, and agency) are always at stake in rhetorical interaction (they are effects rather than causes). I also just completed an edited collection (co-edited with Paul Lynch) exploring the impact of Bruno Latour on rhetoric and composition: Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition at Southern Illinois University Press (2015).

Craft Communication by m.e.g

Craft Communication by m.e.g

My work has appeared in

  • Rhetoric Society Quarterly
  • Quarterly Journal of Speech
  • College Composition and Communication
  • College English
  • Rhetoric Review
  • Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy
  • Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture
  • Technical Communication Quarterly
  • Journal of Technical Writing and Communication
  • Rhetoric and Public Affairs
  • The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
  • O-Zone: A Journal of Object-Oriented Studies
  • Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society
  • Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology, and the Arts

Running through all of my publications is an understanding of rhetoric as a practice and a field of study that always exists alongside various scientific and humanistic disciplines. For more details about my research, please visit the current projects and recent publications pages. Here is a short video that captures some of what I am up to right now: