S3S's 2010-2011 Vice President and now RCID doctoral candidate Steve Holmes passed his comprehensive/qualifying exams, back in December.
On December 9, Steve presented his multimodal portion of the exams, titled, "Electrate Invention in the Parliament of Things," having completed his written exams in his areas of specialization: object-oriented rheorics, Heuretics/Euretics, and Tool-Being.
Steve's dissertation explores realism and materialism in relationship over the history of rhetorical theory. By tracing the disappearance of realism and the onset epistemic, social constructivist, semiotic, and poststructuralist paradigms in the 20th century, Steve explores how rhetoric came to prominence under these anti-realist theories of materiality, a situation best epitomized by Jacques Derrida's description of materiality as "matter without substance" (e.g. without a reality independent of linguistic construction).
Steve's dissertation foregrounds the work of new movements in affective and feminist theories of materiality and the broader movement of speculative realism in the work of Graham Harman, Bruno Latour, Timothy Morton, Levi Bryant, Jane Bennett, Vickie Kirby and Karen Barad as a way to talk again about the reality of nature and the nonhuman. The dissertation then considers how realism can inform theories and pedagogies related to rhetorical invention in digital and networked ecologies, drawing specific attention to the work of hardware and software studies and new media artists who foreground the materiality of media ecologies. Drawing on Gregory Ulmer's scholarship, he intends to create additional multimodal components that will bear witness to new idioms of the ways in which we have always dwelled with the nonhuman element.
A hearty, albeit belated, congratulations to (ABD) RCID doctoral candidate Steve Holmes from S3S!