Rhetoric 330c: Advanced Studies in Digital Rhetoric
University Course Catalog
An advanced course that examines the role of information technologies in communication. Taught using networked computers.
Instructor Syllabus Course Description
In this course, we will explore how the digital (as apparatus, as memory) opens up new spaces, places, and purposes for monumentality in our culture. Following the work of Gregory L. Ulmer, we shall pursue the rhetorical, cultural, and socio-political possibilities of digital monu-mentality. On our way to developing a framework by which we might analyze, critique, and create digital monuments, and by which we might extend them (or have them extend us) onto the “real,” we will explore many of the nuances of the classical rhetoric canon of Memory and how it might be changing given the digital turn.
This course will investigate the impact of technologies (and related exclusionary or ordering practices) on Memory, and on the archive more generally, and will situate these issues in relation to larger frames like the social spectacle (and societies of the spectacle), cultural identity formation, revisionist histories, and the other, to name a few. But we will also attempt to move beyond the “archival walls” and consider the rhetoric(s) of memorials and monuments as rhetorical acts of remembrance, as rhetorical acts of commemoration. We shall explore these “acts” in terms of both formed and formless values (Bataille’s informe), and critically consider how they contribute to (self/social) identity-politics. Particularly, we will pay heed to the various mediums of epideictic rhetoric (oral, written, sculptural, digital, etc.) as they relate to considerations and treatment of the abject—often an unacknowledged (and uncritically examined) sacrifice standing at the heart of both formed and formless values.
Thus, we will attempt to open the conversation to the gestures of honoring the dead, the interrelations between catastrophe and monumentality, the rhetorical acts and rhetorical creations associated with mourning, loss, and sacrifice (individual and collective), and the acts of bearing witness and giving testimony—focusing on how these all come to bear on our given moment, our given identities/subjectivities, our given principles and policies. And it will be from these frames that we will create, invent, make digital monuments that draw attention to both real and virtual formed and formless values.