Blog Post

Amanda Wall: An Introduction and Such


My concentrations are Rhetoric and Digital Literacies and Literatures, and I call myself a digital rhetorician.  By that, I mean that I am a rhetorician who studies digital things, sometimes using digital methods.

I'm interested in genre theory and media studies to study comments namely because I think these two fields have a lot to say to each other and aren't saying it.  So I aim to play matchmaker and get them together to have little internet-loving babies.



This is an exciting project. It reminds me of the current neglect of marginalia (except by famous readers) in cataloguing books. That has been discussed by at least one early modernist I have read. Stefan collini? Anyway, are comments to websites as annotations are to books?


Oooh, Stefan Collini's work sounds interesting; I'll have to take a look!

The first difference I thought of  when comparing to comments to annotations is the level of publicity.  Comments are immediately public and address a particular public in a way that annotations might not always do?  On the other hand, I think you're right that annotations are, among other genres like letters to the editor, one of the anticedent genres for comments.

Ha - I could talk about this ALL DAY LONG, so I won't write paragraphs and paragraphs about it.  But thanks for your interest!


you're right about the difference in reading audiences, for the community vs. letter to the editor.

but i've found some exceptions.

here at UNC-Chapel Hill's Davis Library, we have a copy of Bostetter's ROMANTIC VENTRILOQUISM from the 60s in which someone has written, extremely neatly and in pencil, at the top of the chapter on Wordsworth, that (I paraphrase), Bostetter's argument is warped by his ad hominem hatred of Wordsworth. Then, throughout the book, we get commentaries (lacking evidence, just "no" or "wrong" or "he misunderstands this poem, again") on Bostetter's reading of Wordsworth and all claims that proceed from that reading. It's a letter to the future reader, not to the editor, this string of annotations. And it begs for responses - because it's in PENCIL. It dares us to erase if we disagree. And we haven't erased. (Is that like giving Bostetter a Facebook "like," by default?)

Maybe this is an exception. I don't know.

UT-Austin has a copy of Bacon's ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING that Percy Shelley owned in college in 1810-11. I've read two articles about the underlining in it - both are from the early 20th century and assume that the underlining is Shelley's. But we KNOW that he and his wife Mary Shelley shared books, and that both of them shared books with other readers in their households and coteries. So were these emphases intended for the "audience" of each other and/or others?

Last thing - the graffiti that the eponymous protagonist of Mary Shelley's THE LAST MAN writes on the ruins of post-Apocalyptic late-21st century Rome:


Is this "writing back" (to those "shadows" from the past that built Rome? That built civilization?) or, given that it's addressed to ghosts who will "rise" (again), for the readers of the future, there being no other possible readership for his writing, so far as he knows?