ENGL 509A 001 (Seminar) Studies in Rhetoric – Rhetorical Criticism and Technology: Methods and Machines

Instructor: Ian Hill
Section: 001

Term: 2
Meets: Wednesday, 9:30 am– 12:30 pm, Buchanan Tower 1197

This course aims for students to learn how to do rhetorical criticism through the lens of technology studies. Readings will be drawn primarily from the fields of rhetorical criticism and Science and Technology Studies [STS]. The course will begin with a survey of methodologies in traditional, text-based rhetorical criticism. Readings might include articles such as Walter Ong’s “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought,” and Gordon Mitchell’s “Placebo Defense: Operation Desert Mirage? The Rhetoric of Patriot Missile Accuracy in the 1991 Persian Gulf War,” and Jenny Edbauer Rice’s “Rhetoric’s Mechanics: Retooling the Equipment of Writing Production.” Then the course will shift into examining both older and contemporary forays into the rhetoric of technology, or the ways that people argue, debate, advocate and dissent against technologies. Readings might include articles such as Mark Moore’s “Life, Liberty, and the Handgun,” and Peter Lyman’s “Information Superhighways, Virtual Communities, and Digital Libraries.” Along the way, students will also learn about the visual rhetoric of technologies with writings such as Robert Hariman’s and John Lucaites’s “Liberal Representation and Global Order: The Iconic Photograph from Tiananmen Square.” The latter portion of the course will consider ways that technologies are persuasive both by themselves and in assemblages with people. Readings will draw on contemporary rhetorical criticism, such as Laurie Gries’s “Dingrhetoriks,” Scot Barnett’s “Chiasms: Pathos, Phenomenology, and Object-Oriented Rhetorics,” and excerpts from Krista Kennedy’s Textual Curation: Authorship, Agency, and Technology in Wikipedia and the Chambers’ Cyclopedia, as well as STS scholarship that takes up current interests in object-oriented philosophies, new materialism, and assemblage theory by the likes of Jane Bennett, Bruno Latour, and Timothy Morton.