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Digital Rhetoric Defined




Samantha Quigley

The term “digital rhetoric” was first coined by Richard Lanham in 1989. Since then, it has become widely used and analyzed by many scholars in the literary field. Although Lanham abstains from providing a concrete definition, he draws important connections to the term while focusing on the features of digital texts. 

Requiring Literacies

In order to fully comprehend what digital rhetoric is, it is important to first understand both terms separately. As Doug Brent explains in “Rhetorics of the Web,” the term has expanded past its original definition. It is more than a persuasive argument but rather contains “interaction, conversation, and joint construction of knowledge.” In other words, it requires numerous literacies in order to convey meaning through language. The term digital on the other hand is signals or data that can be expressed into a series of 1s and 0s. Understanding these terms separately is crucial to be able to comprehend Doug Eyman’s book “Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice.” 

Sourcing from Scholars

While his first chapter is an attempt at defining the term, it seems as though Eyman lacks the ability to convey his own thoughts in his text. Instead, Eyman’s work is mainly a collection of other scholars’ work that he rephrases and critiques. Although complex, digital rhetoric can ultimately be defined as understanding and having the ability to use differing digital tools and literacies to communicate and convey information and knowledge through digital platforms. 

Simplifying Digital Rhetoric

Digital rhetoric has many components and characteristics that can be broken down into several aspects. However, the digital side simply adds some affordances and constraints to the term rhetoric. Although the concept can be complicated, understanding the key concepts and the base words of the term simplifies the process. Nevertheless, it is vital to recognize that there is currently no concrete definition when it comes to digital rhetoric.


2 responses to “Digital Rhetoric Defined”

  1. […] impacts digital has on rhetoric (Aristotle, Kenney, Zappen, Eyman). There is no one definition of digital rhetoric. There are way too many ways digital aspects affect rhetorical aspects. Way too many new media are […]

  2. […] previously defined in one of my former blog posts, digital rhetoric is the understanding and ability to use differing digital tools and literacies to communicate and […]

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