CFP Archive

Issue 4: Writing New Material for Digital Rhetoric

Edited by Jacob Greene and Chloe Anna Milligan

Our fourth issue, “Writing New Material for Digital Rhetoric,” aims to explore new materialist approaches to the digital. For new materialist and object-oriented philosophies continue to play a prominent role in discourses on digital media. Theorists such as Bruno Latour (2005), Jane Bennett (2010), and Ian Bogost (2012) prompt us to conceive of the material world as a “vibrant” network of objects endowed with agency, intention, and desire. Scholars in rhetoric and new media, such as Alexander Reid (2012), Jussi Parikka (2015), and David Rieder (2017) have begun to extend new materialist philosophies into an examination of our historical and contemporary relationship to electronic media and digital culture. This emerging trend posits that digital artifacts not only enact material effects but actively resist the strict binaries between “the digital” and “the physical” that often circulate in discussions of new media.

In Still Life with Rhetoric, Laurie Gries outlines her new materialist approach to rhetoric by claiming that “a thing’s rhetorical meaning is constituted by the consequences that emerge in its various material encounters, affects, and intra-actions” (29). Gries pursues her new materialist rhetoric by tracing the digital and material circulation of the famous Obama Hope image. In a similar vein, Nicole Starosielski takes a new materialist approach by bringing to surface the overlooked structures of undersea cable networks that physically support Internet services. Lastly, Lori Emerson’s work with the Media Archaeology Lab at UC-Boulder demonstrates the importance of engaging with the material traces of our digital histories, from magic lanterns and typewriters to early modems and video game systems. The diverse methods taken up by these scholars serve as just a few examples of how new materialism offers a productive framework for grounding the study of digital rhetoric and media.

Submissions to this issue will be peer-reviewed and should be 3,000-6,000 words in length. We encourage submissions in a variety of media and formats about a variety of media and formats, including commercial technologies, new media art and electronic literature, games and game platforms, etc. Potential submission topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Rhetorics of specific digital or material texts and artifacts
  • Transmedia/multimodal writing pedagogies
  • Material effects of planned obsolescence and e-waste
  • Emerging ubiquitous computing technologies
  • Materialities of writing, narrative, and information design
  • Media archaeological approaches to old and new media
  • Embodied computing and posthuman rhetorics
  • Augmented reality and locative media
  • Ambient rhetorics and literatures

Issue 3: How We Make

Edited by Emily Brooks and Shannon Butts

Our third issue, “How We Make,” explores how we make “through, with, and alongside” (N. Katherine Hayles) a larger ecology of technology, society, and design. The growing availability of cheap and easily hackable technology has captured commercial and scholarly attention worldwide, instigating a new type of DIY citizenship built from a hybrid economy of material, conceptual, and digital production. Publications like Make Magazine, online tutorials like Instructables, and community makerspace labs like Artisan’s Asylum offer multiple platforms for ‘how to’ projects– anything from building a home to hacking software or 3D-printing a prosthetic limb. But is it enough to make for making’s sake? And how do we attend to the longer history of makers and makerspaces? This issue offers a critical forum to discuss how technology changes the way we make theoretically and practically.

Scholars from communication, design, and media studies, such as Matt Ratto, Victor Papanek, and David Gauntlett, theorize a material-semiotic approach that emphasizes either process or product – the ‘how,’ ‘why,’ or ‘what’ of making. While “critical making” reflects conceptually on the making process, “sustainable design” connects the designer’s role in society with the impact of the final product. Making has also been approached through “DiDIY” (digital do-it-yourself), focusing on digital technologies’ impact on creative projects. Building off this scholarship, "How We Make" asks scholars and makers to critically reflect on the making process in their communities, makerspaces, and classrooms in order to reveal new insight into the maker movement.

Using the momentum generated by recent digital humanities scholarship, Trace invites submissions in the following categories:

1) Theory – The theoretical section asks scholars to be critical of making, investigating process, history, ecology, and trends. Potential projects may explore how theories of making engage or neglect race/class/gender/accessibility issues, how making is beneficial to society and could empower traditionally oppressed social groups, how the nonhuman participates in making, or how making challenges traditional consumer/producer models or privileges specific skills.

2) Praxis – The practical section calls for maker submissions detailing approaches to making and the results/impacts. Potential projects may discuss issues of accessibility, learning by doing, spaces (virtual or actual) of collaboration, best practice for amateurs learning DIY electronics, funding scholarly making, the use of maker labs, or making as serious scholarship.

3) Pedagogy – The pedagogical section calls for educational submissions detailing making in the classroom. Potential projects may cover connections between ‘making’ and education or invention, low-tech making in the classroom, definitions of making for education, pedagogical implications when asking students to think of writing/composing as making, or reflections on course outcomes including syllabus and course assignments.

Trace also recognizes that the methods and means for knowledge production are constantly changing, and so the journal at once accommodates traditional modes of publication while also supporting works shaped by contemporary technologies. Thus, multimedia submissions are accepted and encouraged. Trace can support text, video, image, sound, game, and other file formats. Completed articles will be peer-reviewed and should be between 3000-6000 words in length. Please use MLA 8 formatting. If you are interested in contributing, please submit your finalized project to the Issue 3 Submittable page.