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Rhetorical Distributions

Image Credit: Complex Network by yobink

During the past year and a half, Dale Smith and I have been working on a project entitled “Rhetorical Distributions: The Event and the Archive.” This project began as an essay that attempted to link Alexander Galloway’s work on protocol and networks to conversations about public culture, rhetoric, and the circulation of discourse. We’ve also extended this research into discussions of code, digital poetry, and constrained writing. We have presented portions of this work at the 2011 Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies Symposium and the 2011 Computers and Writing Conference.

The essay version of this research has already been cited by one print publication, Byron Hawk’s essay “Curating Ecologies, Circulating Musics: From the Public Sphere to Sphere Publics” (which appears in the edited collection Ecology, Writing Theory, and New Media: Writing Ecology). Additionally, we have received at least five other requests for manuscript versions of this essay. People who attended the aforementioned conferences or who have found reference to the project on the conference websites want to read it and/or cite it. The problem is that Dale and I have had difficulty finding a publication venue for this essay. We’ve submitted it to various journals, each time getting different advice. Each set of reviewers recommended citing different scholarship, making different changes to the argument, and changing the focus of the essay. Part of the problem is that we are hoping to address various audiences in the essay, which is sometimes a difficult thing to do in scholarly journals.

This is the nature of scholarly publishing, and we’re not complaining. We will grant that there are flaws with the essay. However, we have decided to publish it online.

We’ve decided to do this for two reasons: 1) It is already being distributed through various scholarly networks (an interesting thing to consider, given the essay’s discussion of circulation and distribution); 2) We’re open to hearing more feedback about the argument. In fact, perhaps we’ll revise the piece and publish another version.

So, to this end, we’re releasing the essay in two different ways:

1)  As a WordPress installation that uses Commentpress

Commentpress is a WordPress plugin developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book that allows readers to post comments on the entire piece and on each individual paragraph. We welcome feedback on the essay.

2) As a PDF. The version we’re posting was last revised in November 2011.

We’re hoping that this experiment yields feedback and continues the life of this project. We look forward to hearing from scholars in various fields as we think through the argument.

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