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Digital, digitally rhetorical?

For this post I’m going to “mine” Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s piece for a number of reasons which go in tandem with the various dilemmas she tackles. What jumped at me first was the singularity and the plurality implied in the concept (digital humanities) and that is manifested in the verb preference. There is a reciprocity of influence. That nexus of fields is all united under the medium through which it finds expression, but at the same time the digital representation or facilitation also get shaped by the respective field. Even though there is a blurring of the demarcation lines between the different disciplines, each discipline gets to preserve its own identity, which finds expression in the choices and ways it makes use of digitization. Fitzpatrick helped me become more aware of the changes inherent in digital humanities and the future of the field with respect to its application to different disciplines. And, it’s not just about computing.

As an English instructor I care about the ways new technologies can be incorporated in research as well as pedagogy. Rhetoric has been hugely affected by facebook and mostly twitter, but they’re still marginalized. The present academic discourse hasn’t made room for those instances of communication and I’d say for good reason. However, living in an age with a propensity for online presence, where what was known as print has been replaced by its digitized version, reading and writing are under significant pressure to adjust to the new. Like every innovation, those changes produce obvious and not-so-obvious tensions.

Another question that she raises that I found of relevance involves distinguishing between making, in the sense of producing new methods and tools, and interpreting. This subtle distinction ties in with her later argument with regards to scholarly work and the clear or not-so-clear distinction between critical and creative. The digitized world produces some anxiety in blurring those lines. The focus is not so much on what it used to be, but more on what the state of the field is at present and what its future is shaping up to be.  Fitzpatrick favors individuality; for her, it’s not about unifying; it’s about creating the space and opportunity for change.

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One Response to Digital, digitally rhetorical?

  1. Jill Belli says:

    Katie, in your second paragraph, you write: “Rhetoric has been hugely affected by facebook and mostly twitter, but they’re still marginalized. The present academic discourse hasn’t made room for those instances of communication and I’d say for good reason.”

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “good reason” for not incorporating the rhetoric of social media into academic discourse …

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