Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Anne Wysocki

Committee Members

Dennis Lynch, Shevaun Watson, Stuart Moulthrop, Michael Zimmer


ethics, feminism, multimodal rhetoric, social media, technology, writing pedagogy


I bring together the relational ethics of feminist critical theory with approaches of multimodal rhetoric to examine the ethical implications of composing on social media platforms. Most social media platforms are designed to value consumerism, efficiency, quantity of web traffic, and constant synchronous response over concerns of responsible and critical communication. I propose a rhetorical approach of techno-social relationality (TSR) as an intervention against such corporate-minded design. Through this approach, I argue that civil engagement is not limited to people’s social responsibilities but rather is entwined in complex, material-technical contexts. By considering the responsibility of our machines as much as ourselves, I lay a foundation for the multimodal writing pedagogies I would like to see implemented in composition courses.