A wall of spraypainted text. Photo by Andreas Fickl on Unsplash

Text and How it Affects Digital Rhetoric




Emily Contreras

The word “text” is simple enough to understand in its limited definition as “a book or other written or printed work, regarded in terms of its content rather than its physical form”. But what about digital writing? What about Digital Literature? Don’t they count as texts too? What about symbols such as emojis, and app icons? Do they count as text too? Surprisingly through the reading of Doug Eyman, there’s more to the word text than one might think in relation to digital Rhetoric.

Text in digital Rhetoric

In digital rhetoric, the definition of “text” must encompass more to reflect the ever-expanding nature of what digital rhetoric means and how it is implemented according to Eyman. A solution for this definition was found by Robert de Beaugrande and Wolfgang Dressler’s definition of text by calling it a “communicative event”. This would include requirements of cohesion, coherence, intentionality, acceptability, informality, situationality, and intertextuality. Each part examines the text through a different lens and how it relates back to its rhetoric from my understanding.

Requirements of “Communitive Event”

For coherence, it focuses on the meaning of the text. Intentionality focuses on intention. Then there was Acceptability focuses on how the text is accepted and recognized by the audience. Following up, Informality focuses on the new and relevant information in the text. After that, Situationality focuses on how the text is presented and if it is textually appropriate. Finally intertextuality basically refers to how the text is in connection to previous or different texts.

Is Expansion of Defintion necessary?

                 I do question this complicated look into attempting to expand the definition of text. It is truly necessary to “expand” the definition of text for the context of digital rhetoric? All these points seemingly could very well just be boiled down to “different ways text affects rhetoric.” Or how you can view text in different rhetorical ways and how it affects the main idea. Each aspect of Robert de Beaugrande and Wolfgang Dressler’s expansive definition feels over-complicated. Text in my opinion should focus on what is considered text, both in the literature and digital space. It does have rhetorical aspects to it but that does not need to be part of its definition. I feel all of these aspects can be put into understanding digital rhetoric itself and how well the text communicates its message of persuasion. I explored the meaning behind digital rhetoric in my old blog.

Emojis count for Rhetoric

However, texts with letters are not the only ones that carry rhetoric. Emojis are another form of text that carries much digital rhetoric with it. Now that may sound surprising to some that these small pictures count as text but they indeed do. Emojis offer information to its reader and that information can be complex solely because of context. To one individual 😭can mean sadness, to another, it can mean crying with laughter. ☠️can mean sick to one person whereas to another it’s the equivalent of the phrase, “I’m dead” ironically. Thus, the rhetoric of emojis can be impactful to the communicative event when the reader understands their audience. Would I consider the communicative event an expansive definition of emojis? No, I believe it will further complicate what emojis are in text. But it is important to know they do have important rhetoric of their own.

Kress’ Observation

                Within Eyman’s I do understand the observations Kress mentions within this section. One observation is that text is just a “material entity, drawing on the resources of its mode of expression.” Through my understanding of this, I see it as recognizing text as a form of expression. That expression is the emotions, ideas, or message the writer is trying to convey based on the “resources” like an event or other work of literature. The other observation is that text is “the result of social action.” I understood this observation that text and information shared on text are created because of social change. Text reflects the culture it was made in and the social issues surrounding that culture.

                Overall, Text is an important rhetorical device in digital rhetoric, but I do not think the word “text” itself should be confused with how it can be rhetorically helpful. Text is influenced by social action and the creation and sharing of it is based on other resources.


One response to “Text and How it Affects Digital Rhetoric”

  1. […] 📈 the meaning of text and reflect the writer’s personality. . I mentioned emojis briefly in my previous blog that emojis are an important part of […]

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