Identification beyond the symbolic frame : Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, and the rhetorical logics of objects



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Rhetorics of identification traditionally address two questions: how does rhetoric work, who or what is involved in rhetorical relations, and how do these relations unfold and proceed, and how can and should we conduct ourselves in light of this state of things, what modes of engagement and response do we have available? Rhetoricians have drawn substantially on Kenneth Burke’s work on symbolic action in answering these questions, but this emphasis on the symbolic does not exhaust the range and nature of rhetorical relations, and other modes of relationality thus warrant our attention. My work aims to consider how our understanding of identification shifts when we move beyond the symbolic frame, when we attend to rhetorical relations without grounding our inquiry in considerations of representation, interpretation, understanding, dialectics, and epistemology. Drawing on conversations in nonrational rhetorics, object-oriented ontology, postmodernism and postmodern literature, digital rhetorics, writing studies, and video game studies, I attend to the material, affective, and singular nature of rhetorical relations. I also consider the modes of engagement this understanding of identification makes available with reference to writing pedagogy and the work of authors Don DeLillo and David Foster Wallace.