(Re)mapping the rhetorical situation: Toward a transactional networked ecology

Ramesh Kumar Pokharel, University of Texas at El Paso


The existing theories of the rhetorical situation that focus on and around Bitzer's theory define the rhetorical situation as something "real," "genuine," "objective" based on historic reality. I believe that this modernist containment to perceive the rhetorical situation as fixed entities limit our understanding about it in a broader sense, because it cannot capture the changed meaning that naturally exists with the impact of new media and technology. With the advent of new media and technology, the notion of rhetorical situation also has changed and thus there is an exigence of a new theory of the rhetorical situations that better incorporates the new notions. In this context, by researching the concept of rhetorical situation and how it has changed over time, particularly given the impact of new media and technology, I propose "Rhetorical Situation as Trans-situational Networked Ecologies" that has more explanatory power, in which I account for, frame, critique and analyze the fundamental assumptions and beliefs on the rhetorical situations. In order to do so, I analyze these existing notions of rhetorical situation, problematize them from a postmodern perspective, and explore the need of conceiving the rhetorical situation from a new perspective. The rhetorical situation as trans-situational networked ecologies fundamentally believes that the constituents of the rhetorical situations are not discrete entities, and there are no linear relations between them. Rather the elements of the rhetorical situation have multiple layers of relationships, a networked system connected as an ecology. To sum up, the rhetorical situation involves a plurality of the constituents of the rhetorical situation with complex, recursive, and co-adaptive relations. Rhetorical situation as a complex thing involves the rhetor, audience, subject, occasion, and speech in disjunctive, but networked relationships in an ecology. These components are in constant relationships mutually influencing each other and, thus, co-adaptive.

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Recommended Citation

Pokharel, Ramesh Kumar, "(Re)mapping the rhetorical situation: Toward a transactional networked ecology" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3597244.