Extra lives, extra limbs
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This project situates videogaming as an activity that, in its cultural and technological distinctness, challenges the discipline of Rhetoric & Composition studies. This project responds to that challenge by playfully reconceptualizing rhetoric itself, by exploring its history and “extending” many of its core concepts in conversation with the tradition of media theory. To begin, it proposes a two-fold move designed to bring these conversations into contact. The first is a rereading of the emergence of the Sophists, both historically and historiographically, with the aim of offering a “technologization of rhetoric,” that is, a sense of how shifts in history and (its historiographical perception) can be read as effected by differences in technological media. The second move, a “rhetoric of technologization,” reads trends in the modern discourse of game studies, their attempts to cope with the emergence of videogaming, through the lens of twentieth-century rhetorical theories. These two moves prepare the project to build an “extended” rhetoric according to the principles not of literacy, but of electracy, a concept which names an emergent electronic apparatus after literacy. The chapters that follow each take on of Aristotle's pisteis, or proofs, as a jumping-off point for exploring how certain rhetorical concerns stand to be reworked and reconceptualized due to the emergence of videogaming as a medium. One chapter explores, by considering the confluence of both image and computer code in gaming, how the concept of êthos (character), once influenced by gaming, leads to questions about how to approach rhetorical criticism and teaching. The next chapter considers mechanically-accelerated approaches to thinking about aesthetic experience as a way of stretching pathos, the proof based on emotion. The final chapter concludes by linking the long history of the term logos with the equally fraught history of “space” as a term of debate in media theory. Each of the three chapters offer case studies of particular games for how the medium as a whole sheds light on important rhetorical issues, and vice versa.