Notes on the Textualized Rhetorical Situation


We tend to treat interactions with others by way of digital artifacts as unmediated, rhetorically neutral communication. Someone sends us a text, for instance, and we read it for what it says or asks us to do.

on your way home pick up cat food. XXX

Even with the textual gesture (XXX = kisses), we tend to read the message as arhetorical - not persuasive - and pretty much ignore the medium of the text message. But the rhetor and addressee are not physically present with one another, and the one-way exchange is mediated by the text message and all the technical and social conventions and presuppositions that the texting mode of exchange entails.

From inside the rhetorical exchange, the real audience would probably focus on the message. But when we read the exchange from outside and as mediated, the strategies the rhetor made in creating the message let us construct a rhetor implied in the text who is addressing a reader intended for the text. To construct the implied rhetor and intended addressee, we look to features in the text itself, such as these -


These purely textual elements all go to define a relationship between implied rhetor and intended audience (of one), and illustrate that the textual gesture of XXX is a persuasive move. It may not persuade us, but we're outside the rhetorical exchange.

This idea of mediation is central to understanding how digital rhetoric works. Digital rhetoric studies implied rhetors and intended addressees that we construct from the artifacts of the exchanges.

Textual Rhet Sit and Social Media

Longaker mentions a few complications of mediated messages in user-created content and social media on pp 20. This exercise, LookingAtTheTexualizedRhetSit, gives you an opportunity to consider those complications.



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