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Digital Griots

Digital Griots

African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age

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Adam J. Banks


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
208 pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Studies in Writing and Rhetoric


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About the Book

Scholar Adam J. Banks offers a mixtape of African American digital rhetoric in his innovative study Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age. Presenting the DJ as a quintessential example of the digital griot-high-tech storyteller-this book shows how African American storytelling traditions and their digital manifestations can help scholars and teachers shape composition studies, thoroughly linking oral, print, and digital production in ways that centralize African American discursive practices as part of a multicultural set of ideas and pedagogical commitments. 

DJs are models of rhetorical excellence; canon makers; time binders who link past, present, and future in the groove and mix; and intellectuals continuously interpreting the history and current realities of their communities in real time. Banks uses the DJ's practices of the mix, remix, and mixtape as tropes for reimagining writing instruction and the study of rhetoric. He combines many of the debates and tensions that mark black rhetorical traditions and points to ways for scholars and students to embrace those tensions rather than minimize them. This commitment to both honoring traditions and embracing futuristic visions makes this text unique, as do the sites of study included in the examination: mixtape culture, black theology as an activist movement, everyday narratives, and discussions of community engagement. Banks makes explicit these connections, rarely found in African American rhetoric scholarship, to illustrate how competing ideologies, vernacular and academic writing, sacred and secular texts, and oral, print, and digital literacies all must be brought together in the study of African American rhetoric and in the teaching of culturally relevant writing. 

A remarkable addition to the study of African American rhetorical theory and composition studies, Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age will compel scholars and students alike to think about what they know of African American rhetoric in fresh and useful ways.


Adam J. Banks, an associate professor of writing, rhetoric, and digital media at the University of Kentucky, is the author of Race, Rhetoric, and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground.


A number of compositionists, including Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart Selber, have used the tropes of "mix" and "remix" to explain digital writing practices—and have even referred to the current age as "remix culture." Banks (Univ. of Kentucky) asks "what we might learn from the rhetorical practices and traditions of the culture that gave us the remix." He links print, oral, and digital productions in ways that locate African American discursive practices at the center of digital rhetoric, and he argues that the DJ is a griot, or digital storyteller, through whom African American rhetoric can be reimaged in a new century. In the book's five chapters, the author explores how the tropes of "mix," "remix," and "mixtape" inform a variety of texts and spaces. In chapter 4, for example, he considers black theology as a "mixtape movement" that synthesizes integrationist and nationalist traditions. He also offers shout-outs in each chapter to digital griot projects. This groundbreaking book is important and timely, suggesting new directions in the study of both African American rhetoric and digital rhetoric. Summing Up: Graduate students, researchers, faculty. -- A. M Laflen, Marist College