Critical Emotion/Pathos/Affect and Digital Technology

Proposed By: Will Kurlinkus and Katie DeLuca

From Joseph Weizenbaum’s shock that the secretarial staff were nightly confessing their innermost emotions to his ELIZA program to Vannevar Bush’s warning that “If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get far in our understanding of the world”—emotion, affect, and non-logos based thinking have always undergirded the digital humanities tradition. Yet, whether out of an eye towards efficiency or a feeling that emotion can’t be critically active, this area has been woefully underexplored. In this session we want to do some of that exploring, by discussing what role emotion (and alternative relationships/ways of thinking about technology more generally) plays in the reception, design, and teaching of digital texts and techs. We especially would like to discuss the ways in which emotional responses to technology are not always simply passive or uncritical states but rather are often a critical, active, rhetorical move for a purpose.

Some starting points of discussion might be:
  • Digital spaces as places for the engagement of emotion
  • Emotional reactions to technology as signs of a critical awareness of change
  • Digital technologies as a place for negotiating and composing community identity, values, and changes
  • How technophobia/-philia and the whole gambit of techno-emotions function in our classrooms
A couple texts we like when looking at emotion, tradition, and technology more critically (beyond simply dismissing technophobia and philia) are:
Both Katie and I are coming from rhetorical perspectives on technology and are currently examining ways in which emotional reaction to technologies can be active and tactical sites for community formation. Katie has been studying Facebook memorials set up for recently deceased college-aged students and the way they serve as sites for community formation and grieving in the face of feelings of isolation and passivity often caused by loss. I’ve been looking at how traditional relationships to technology serve as emotionally-charged points of stasis during periods of technological flux where “old” communities encounter “new” digital technologies that sometimes conflict with their ideas of themselves–specifically I’ve been studying the hipster craft revival (especially knitting and digital aesthetics that mimic print errors) as a nostalgic response and re-embodiment of digital loss.


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About wkurlinkus

I'm a second-year doctoral student at OSU who is interested in the intersection between technology, rhetoric, and stylistics. My dissertation project is beginning to take shape around discourse communities with alternative (non-logos based) technological consubstantialities (technophobes, retro-fetishists, pro-gun activists, etc.)—how they form, develop aesthetics, select histories, gatekeep, and communicate/clash with other techno-logics. I have a book chapter coming out about the intersections of classical rhetoric, stylistics, ethics, and new media interfaces. I'm interested in technological nostalgia and how communities rewrite their histories in response to new technologies. I also really like old tech and am an avid Old Time Radio listener.

One Response to Critical Emotion/Pathos/Affect and Digital Technology

  1. Katie DeLuca says:

    Hi, y’all,
    If you’re visiting our session/discussion here’s a google doc with what we want to talk about: docs.google.com/document/d/1XhXFRrYhtC_PL-2xhzJhyf2sdEzoGEXd7H9qkeH5imE/edit

    Add in, add a comment, keep some thinking going!
    -Katie DeLuca

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