CFP: Special Issue of Computational Culture on Rhetoric and Computation

Monday, November 25, 2013 (All day)

We seek papers and projects on the topic of rhetoric and computation for a special issue of the journal Computational Culture, edited by James J. Brown, Jr. and Annette Vee. Abstracts due *Nov 25, 2013*. More details below.



Rhetoric has historically been a discipline concerned with the ways that spoken and written language shape human activity. Similarly, emerging work in digital media studies (in areas such as software studies, critical code studies, and platform studies) seeks to describe the ways that computation shapes contemporary life. This special issue of Computational Culture on "Rhetoric and Computation" merges these two modes of inquiry to explore how together they can help us to understand ways that our communication and computational activities are now constituted by both human and computer languages.



Coupling the analysis of rhetoric with computation provokes a number of questions: How is the rhetorical force of computational objects different from or similar to that of language, sound, or image? What new modes of communication open up when we view computation as an expressive medium? How does computation shape or constrain rhetorical action? What new tropes, figures, and strategies emerge in computational environments? How do programmers deploy rhetoric at the level of code and interface? These questions are not exhaustive, and we welcome papers or computational projects that pursue these questions and others like them.

Topics or projects might include:

  • Computational artifacts (such as videogames or art installations) designed to make procedural arguments and model systems or phenomena

  • Analysis of multiple choice tests processed by computers as rhetorical artifacts, aimed at both human (citizens, students) and nonhuman (machine) audiences.

  • How computational strategies such as surveillance supercede more traditional spheres of rhetorical deliberation such as written law

  • The ways in which computational data interpellate individuals and define citizenship

  • Strategies of the "quantified self" as a way of shaping human behavior

  • Rhetorical analysis of computational systems used by governmental, educational, and political entities

  • How computational systems are described for different audiences from groups of expert programmers to the general public

  • The use of software algorithms to simulate and evaluate various activities, such as writing and conversation

  • Rhetorical strategies deployed by communities of programmers and designers in marginal comments, online forums or physical workplaces

  • Analysis of computational machines as rhetors (i.e., understanding the actions of such machines in terms of the tropes, figures, and strategies they deploy)


300 word abstracts are due November 25, 2013. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editors. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by January 31, 2014 and invited to submit full manuscripts by April 1, 2014. These manuscripts are subject to outside peer review according to Computational Culture's policies. The issue will be published Fall 2014.

Please send abstracts and inquiries to Jim Brown and Annette Vee: brownjr and annettevee

James J. Brown, Jr.

Assistant Professor

Department of English and Program in Digital Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison



Annette Vee

Assistant Professor

Department of English

University of Pittsburgh


Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.



Hi Annette,

Is the due date for abstracts 11/25 or 11/1? Fantastic CFP, by the way! I got inspired just by reading it.



Abstracts are due 11/25. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy in the original post, Rachael! I've fixed it now. Glad you're excited about it. We are, too.