Phil Bratta



Photo by Christina Victoria Cedillo

In Bridging Culture and Affect: Rhetorical Practices with(in) a Digitized Archive, I examine several political posters in The Joseph Labadie Collection archive at University of Michigan. Using ethnographic site visitations, story, multi-sensuous rhetorical analyses, and data visualizations, I supplement a traditional hermeneutic analysis with what I term cultural affect—a rhetorical event in which one’s lived, embodied experiences (re)emerge through intensities that (re)orient a set of relations and meanings. As a practice, then, cultural affect involves not merely reading and then writing about people, texts, objects, and things, but attending to extra-textual elements and one’s own embodiment as a way to understand and initiate ethical practices of engagement.

My dissertation findings show the intrinsic relationships between embodiment, texts, and language, including the labor of writing, the work in reading, the skill of interpreting, and the practice of connecting reflections and cultural histories. The findings offer opportunities to understand and write about the complexity of embodied experiences, seemingly disparate connections, and new ways to convey information and create knowledge, such as writing with multi-genre and multimodal approaches and processes. Additionally, my findings bring to the forefront better and more layered understandings of political subjectivities and identities that do not neatly fall within clear, definitive categories and representative binaries (White/Black, masculine/feminine, intellectual/laborer, and so forth). These findings contribute to semiotics, affect theory, and rhetorical theory, as well as the fields of English studies, rhetoric and composition, communication studies, and digital humanities.

constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space

Malea Powell, Cindy Tekobbe, Alex Hidalgo and I built and run a digital journal: constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space, which is now live: constell8cr.comIt is an online double-blind peer-reviewed journal focused on cultural rhetorics scholarship, teaching, and practice. Cultural rhetorics is anchored in the belief that all cultures are rhetorical and all rhetorics are cultural, and this belief forms a set of constellating methodologies, theories, and practices which draw attention to the intricate ways meaning emerges in human practices.

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Digital Media and Composition (DMAC) 2016

In May 2016, I participated in Digital Media and Composition Institute (DMAC) at The Ohio State University. Listed below is the final project, which was a 60 second video (“Concept in 60”).  “working hands” is a memory and contemplation upon how my hands connect to my own desire for ideas and thinking, my familial upbringing and time working as a mechanic for years, and the practice of writing.

working hands Concept in 60 Transcript

After this video was made and shown to the rest of the DMAC participants, Cate Sacchi St Pierre asked to me to participate in a discussion with her, Cynthia Lin, Ebony Bailey, and Elizabeth Johnston on why and how we made the videos we made. Here is the video of me discussing my Concept in 60: