“The Ideograph and the #Pussyhat: The Multimodal Rhetorics of Brevity in the Women’s March.”
Hashtag Activism Interrogated and Embodied: Case Studies on Social Justice Movements, edited by Melissa Ames and Kristi McDuffie. UP Colorado and Utah UP, 2023. https://upcolorado.com/utah-state-university-press/item/6275-hashtag-activism-interrogated-and-embodied
Keywords: ideograph, hashtag activism, digital publics, dissent, counterpublics, circulation, multimodality, feminist rhetoric, social media, social movements
Platform(s) Researched: Twitter
In this chapter, I argue that the Pussyhat Project’s strategic use of brevity in its various texts—including and beyond the hashtag “#pussyhat”—plays an essential role in the march’s rapid, ongoing international success because these texts collectively create an ideograph, or a brief communicative unit whose use metonymically signals a larger ideology (McGee, 1980). Arguably, hashtags exemplify ideographs today. I show how multiple (types of) texts can collectively comprise a multimodal ideograph. Specifically, I argue that the Pussyhat Project employs brevity in a four-pronged approach of its name, web materials, hashtag, and namesake hat, wherein these components collectively create a multimodal ideograph that continues to encourage audience uptake and sustain the project’s influence. Ultimately I call for expanding our conceptions of brevity to be more inclusive of its multimodal, nondiscursive qualities, which can help us better account for its significance.
“Points of Contact between Activism, Populism, and Fandom on Social Media.”
Media and Communication, vol. 10, no. 4, 2022. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i4.5738
Keywords: celebrity, citizen journalism, digital publics, fan activism, fan studies, hashtag activism, popular culture, pop music, populism, social media, social movements
Platform(s) Researched: Instagram
This article explores how music fans used social media to increase a social movement’s public support. Although initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory, the movement eventually gained widespread support and is motivating communities to engage in broader cultural conversations. The movement’s success, this article argues, is largely owed to social media’s networked communication affordances and how they facilitate fan-based citizenship and citizen journalism. Through a rhetorical analysis of social media communication related to the movement, this article examines how online fan-based citizen journalism can draw together seemingly disconnected ideologies and audiences to diversify and bolster social movements’ support.
“Students’ Social Media Disclosures: Reconsidering the Rhetorics of Whistleblowing.”
Rhetoric Review, vol. 41, no. 4, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1080/07350198.2022.2109400
Keywords: whistleblowing, student writing, social media, parrhesia, dissent, kinderuption, care work, intentionality, audience
Platform(s) Researched: Reddit, Twitter, YouTube
This article examines how whistleblowing evolves as a rhetorical genre alongside emergent media. By analyzing three events involving student disclosures on social media, this article argues that students’ social media communication can qualify as whistleblowing, just as whistleblowing can qualify as rhetoric. Notably, whistleblowing’s current conventions, which are heavily based in business and organization studies, suggest otherwise. This article introduces a concept called kinderuption to facilitate rhetorical analyses of whistleblowing. Approaching whistleblowing events as kinderuptions invites critical attention to audience engagement and influence, and a reconsideration of underlying themes like intention, harm, and care.
“Affective Spamming on Twitch: Rhetorics of an Emote-Only Audience in a Presidential Inauguration Livestream.”
Computers and Composition, vol. 64, June 2022. With Rich Shivener. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2022.102711
Keywords: political rhetoric, visual rhetoric, emoji, affect, audience, social media, online comments, livestreams
Platform(s) Researched: Twitch
This article analyzes what is at stake when social media platforms restrict the modes in which audience members can publicly compose and communicate. More specifically, we are concerned with how platforms adjust users’ multimodal affordances during livestreaming public events, and how these adjustments affect public deliberation. This article focuses on an historic, political Twitch livestream: U.S. President Joe Biden’s inaugural address on January 20, 2021. For rhetoric and writing scholars, this event is significant for two reasons: (1) it is the first presidential inauguration to be livestreamed, officially, on Twitch by the president’s committee, and (2) the livestream’s chat was restricted to “emote-only,” meaning online audience members could only communicate with Twitch emotes in the “live chat” space of the stream. Based on an analysis of more than 12,000 comments, our findings support a theory of what we call affective spam, a more nuanced, visual-content-based form of spam that online audiences use to influence public communication and deliberation on social media during live events.
“Strangers Holding Space: An Online Carework Experiment between Pre-Tenure Writing Program Administrators.”
Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, vol. 6, no. 2, 2022. With Ashanka Kumari. http://journalofmultimodalrhetorics.com/6-2-kumari-and-riddick
Keywords: writing program administration, care work, collaboration, academic labor, academic productivity, women faculty, tenure-track pressures
This is a story about a carework experiment. We wondered how we—two tenure-track professors at widely different institutions and experiences but with similar positions—value (or don’t value) carework. For a month, we documented and checked in with one another each day and each week for accountability. Notably, we were holding each other accountable not for typical work (e.g., research and writing), but rather for carework. Our goal was to relearn how to take care of ourselves amidst our ongoing challenges; to get there, we experimented with self-carework and caring for each other. In this article, we share this carework in action as we worked to feel safer as precarious professionals, to prioritize our health, and to challenge and unlearn academic values of productivity toward centering carework as priority.
“Deliberative Drifting: A Rhetorical Field Method for Audience Studies on Social Media.”
Computers and Composition, vol. 54, December 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2019.102520
Keywords: audience studies, methods and methodologies, social media, rhetorical field studies, digital fields, livestreams, political rhetoric, online comments
Platform(s) Researched: Facebook, YouTube
Recent studies of online audiences point to a continuing need to develop methods for studying emergent media and its actual audience engagement. This article proposes that studies of online audiences can strengthen their approaches by employing elements of rhetorical fieldwork. Advocating for the digital field’s place amongst rhetorical fieldwork, this article introduces a method called deliberative drifting designed for researching the digital fields of live-streaming videos and their online audience engagement. Through a case study of three moments of democratic deliberation live-streamed on social media, this article shows how rhetorical field methods designed for digital fields can produce findings—especially for rhetorical audience studies—as robust as those found in traditional fields.