NATHANRIGGS

Φ

PhD Candidate
Rhetorics, Communication,
and Information Design

Clemson University

Research Statement

My research focuses on the role that persuasion plays in thought and its materialization, writing (this includes all sorts of behaviors and languages, and isn't limited to the standard old marks on a page). At heart, this research is highly interdisciplinary, especially given my additional focus on technical communication and the rhetorics of science, and links the work of theorists across disciplines, prominently from rhetoricians of science, cognitive scientists, philosophers of mind, media theorists, and various others from Science and Technology Studies (STS). These disciplinary leanings are also bound together by posthuman-feminism and various schools of new materialist philosophy (as well as the old ones!).

In line with my Teaching Statement, I defend the assumption that communicative life-forms—human beings, felines, insects, and the whole of organic matter (perhaps even inorganic matter)—are fundamentally technologically mediating, and technologically mediated, beings. Communication cannot, and would not, happen without a medium, whether it be chisel-markings in stone, photons flying off of a screen, or pheromones floating in the air (or, for that matter, the vibration of matter set forth by speaking), nor can it happen without a sort of "primal urge" to use that medium toward practical (communicative) ends. These two criteria for communication make it thoroughly technological, and inescabably material; and while this is a rather obvious assumption to those of us who teach and research writing and communication, like most assumptions it is often in desperate need of reconsideration. Given my specialization, and the general lack of attention this receives in the disciplines I study outside of writing and media studies, I also research the ways in which this mediation plays out in contexts under-studied by others who espouse this theoretical framework.

A caveat: Please note that this is an extreme generalization of my research, as it must be in a format that is widely accessible to multiple audiences, and reflects a general trajectory rather than specific work. My current research, for instance, explores the relation between persuasion and artificial intelligence; more can be found about this endeavor on my Dissertation Page.