Scholarly responses to true crime podcasting tend to highlight the genre’s contributions to audio storytelling and investigative journalism, overlooking its significant—and fraught—role as a contemporary site of civic engagement. Through the lens of rhetorical theory, Just Audio Stories attends to the promising insights offered by the historically problematic genre of true crime and asks what these audio stories reveal about the perplexing yet fundamental civic process of making collective judgments in a digital age.
"The Student-Podcaster as Narrator of Social Change?" College Composition and Communication, vol. 47, no. 3, 2023. Podcasting has been used by many scholars to teach ancient and contemporary rhetorical principles. We extend this conversation by examining narrative nonfiction podcasting and its potential to work toward social change. We suggest pedagogical principles that amplify the affordances of the genre and acknowledge its constraints for achieving social change. "'Listening closely' to mediated intimacies and podcast intimacies in Song Exploder" (with Kyra Clarke) Convergence, 2023. Intimacy is an important and growing concept in both media studies and podcast studies. But research regarding intimacies in both disciplines has yet to fully account for the connection between sound and normativity, which is essential to podcasting and important to mediated intimacies more broadly. In this article, we mobilise scholarship from these two fields to analyse the award-winning music podcast Song Exploder. Our study highlights that attending to intimacies in podcasting involves both analysing how the story structure aligns with social norms and listening critically to the ways the sound design and audio editing complements and complicates these intimate stories. We contend that identifying the intersection of sound and normativity in this podcast contributes to understanding the cultural work of podcasting and underscores the key role of sound in mediated intimacies.
"Resisting Temporal Regimes, Imagining Just Temporalities" (with Frida Buhre) Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 3, 2021, pp. 177-181. This special issue highlights some of the less obvious temporal rhythms that shape rhetorical actions and collectively argues that attending to these covert temporalities is essential to the larger rhetorical project of resisting oppression and reorienting our communities toward justice. Together, the constellation of scholarship contained herein interrogates temporal regimes, understood as the ways that humans negotiate their temporally situated power relations with each other via discourses, histories, cultures, bodies, and technologies. And, in an effort to upend these oppressive temporal regimes, some of the contributions in this special issue begin to identify how other temporal frameworks might point the way toward emancipatory justice.
"Braiding Time: Sami Temporalities for Indigenous Justice" (with Frida Buhre) Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 3, 2021, pp. 227-236. In Indigenous/settler relations, temporal rhetoric functions as an essential tool for both subjugation and resistance. Much scholarship on these temporalities focuses on Turtle Island and is thus implicitly shaped by a seminal historical event: the arrival of European colonizers. We extend this research by turning to Sweden, where the Indigenous Sami and the Scandinavians, who would later become their colonizers, have a long history of continuous interaction. We analyze a pamphlet written by Elsa Laula, the leader of the Sami civil rights movement in early twentieth-century Sweden, as well as Swedish policies and press documents from the time. While the settler Swedes employ similar techniques of temporal othering and erasure as colonizers on Turtle Island, Laula’s rhetoric differs subtly. Her rhetoric enacts resistance by highlighting how Sami temporalities are braided with Swedish temporalities, a rhetorical move that echoes their intertwined histories.
"Plato, Xenophon, and the Uneven Temporalities of Ethos in the Trial of Socrates." Philosophy and Rhetoric, vol. 54, no. 3, 2021, pp. 240-262. Many rhetorical theories of ethos mark their relationship with time by focusing on two temporal poles: the timely ethos and the timeless ethos. But between these two temporal poles, ethos is also durative; it lingers, shifts, accumulates, and dissipates over time. Although scholarship often foregrounds the kairotic and static senses of ethos popularized in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, this article highlights how the chronic elements of ethos are no less important to rhetoric. By examining Xenophon’s and Plato’s representations of the trial of Socrates, this article contends that these competing views about the temporalities of ethos have a storied history that predates Aristotle’s writings. This analysis also expands received understandings of Plato’s contributions to rhetoric by illuminating how his view of ethos is deeply intertwined with ongoing philosophical practice. The article concludes by arguing that rhetorical studies has much to gain by more closely attending to the cumulative aspects of ethos.
"Integrating Usability Testing and Digital Rhetoric in Online Writing Instruction" Computers and Compositionvol. 49, 2018, pp. 4-13. This project arose from three surprisingly-intertwined experiences: working as a technical writer, designing the online composition curriculum at IU, and writing a dissertation about rhetorical theory. This article contends that, while user experience (UX) testing can help instructors improve the design of online writing instruction (OWI), UX's emphasis on student-users sometimes overlooks the networked rhetorical ecologies in which those student-users operate. This, in turn, risks tilting online composition pedagogy toward neoliberal models of higher education that cater to the student-as-consumer. In response, I propose augmenting usability testing in online writing education with theories of digital rhetoric that view educational interfaces as dynamic and interactive sites of rhetorical exchange.
"Accumulating Character" develops a theoretical framework for better understanding how rhetoric unfolds over time. While kairos helps rhetors analyze and deploy persuasive strategies that appropriately respond to the shifting exigencies of a particular moment, such a narrow temporal focus on “right timing” overlooks the important ways that suasive forces also accrete from one rhetorical encounter to the next. To attend to this cumulative rhetorical energy, I examine how the ancient Greek idea of chronos can augment rhetorical notions of time and function as a companion concept to kairos. Chronos, I contend, also foregrounds the role of nonhuman actants in rhetorical ecologies, acknowledging the deep relationality from which rhetorical temporalities emerge. Such a chronos-based sense of time, moreover, provides an improved structure for comprehending the rhetorical concept of ethos, which—unlike other persuasive strategies that may be selectively deployed—is always present in rhetorical encounters. Figured through the lens of chronos, this “cumulative ethos” becomes a decentralized and emergent force: it evolves across digital media platforms and imprints itself on human and nonhuman interactions, accruing strength and speed over time.
RHETORIC SOCIETY OF EUROPE AWARD
Best Graduate Student Paper in Rhetoric and Culture (2017) Born out of my dissertation research which questions the primacy of kairotic time in rhetorical theory, my presentation, "The (Re)Making of Kanye West's Ethos," demonstrates how Kanye West’s digital ethos accretes over time in rhetorically significant ways.
I was drawn to the HASTAC community while investigating the idea of "cumulative ethos" in digital media for my dissertation. As a HASTAC Scholar at IU, I am part of a competitively-selected international network of scholars dedicated to digital research methods and pedagogies. I am particularly interested in considering the stakes and assumptions of digital research methodologies.
POSTHUMANISM READING GROUP
While researching the theories of new materialism for my dissertation, I founded the interdisciplinary IU Posthumanism Reading Group in 2018. Our meetings are dedicated exploring the relationship between subjects, objects, quasi-objects, things, matter, materiality, substance, subjectivity, being, and ecologies.
I am committed to making this website as accessible and inclusive as possible. If you are unable to access parts of this website, please contact me, so that I can address the website design and make materials available in other formats. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @collin_bjork