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Digital Detroit

Digital Detroit

Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network

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Jeff Rice


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
264 pages, 6 x 9, 20 illustrations


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About the Book

Since the 1967 riots that ripped apart the city, Detroit has traditionally been viewed either as a place in ruins or a metropolis on the verge of rejuvenation. In Digital Detroit: Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network, author Jeff Rice goes beyond the notion of Detroit as simply a city of two ideas. Instead he explores the city as a web of multiple meanings which, in the digital age, come together in the city’s spaces to form a network that shapes the writing, the activity, and the very thinking of those around it.

Rice focuses his study on four of Detroit’s most iconic places—Woodward Avenue, the Maccabees Building, Michigan Central Station, and 8 Mile—covering each in a separate chapter. Each of these chapters explains one of the four features of network rhetoric: folksono(me), the affective interface, response, and decision making. As these rhetorical features connect, they form the overall network called Digital Detroit. Rice demonstrates how new media, such as podcasts, wikis, blogs, interactive maps, and the Internet in general, knit together Detroit into a digital network whose identity is fluid and ever-changing. In telling Detroit’s spatial story, Rice deftly illustrates how this new media, as a rhetorical practice, ultimately shapes understandings of space in ways that computer applications and city planning often cannot. The result is a model for a new way of thinking and interacting with space and the imagination, and for a better understanding of the challenges network rhetorics pose for writing.


Jeff Rice is the Martha P. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Writing,Rhetoric, and Digital Media at the University of Kentucky. The author of more than twenty articles and chapters on rhetoric, composition, and new media, he also has authored or coedited four books, including The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media, published by SIU Press.


“In Digital Detroit, Jeff Rice demonstrates that the relatively static and measurable boundaries that give a city the status of a territory do not solely determine that city’s identity, which is being rewritten at each moment according to the dynamic relations of its inhabitants. Captivating in its writing, compelling in its argument, and innovative in its method and performance, this book makes a major contribution to the rhetorics of space and place, specifically, and to rhetorical theory and digital rhetorics more generally.”—Diane Davis, author of Breaking Up [at] Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter and Inessential Solidarity

Digital Detroit is the soundstage, and screenplay, for a lost episode of The Twilight Zone: a rhetorical study in demise and irony, ironworks and metal metonymy. Jeff Rice is a cross between Rod Serling and Bob Dylan, writing from the rubble of a re-‘mixed up confusion’ that is Detroit in the fifth dimension, tuning his keyboard somewhere on Wordward Ave. This is road trip reading at its best.”—Cynthia Haynes, associate professor of English, Clemson University

“[Digital Detroit] is a promise for Detroit in the new rhetorical practice of the network in the digital age. The promise comes in a rhetoric of “allowing spatial meanings to avoid the total theory or grand narrative gesture (Detroit is in ruins/Detroit is about to be rejuvenated). . . . [The book] ends with a sense of closure that leaves us thinking that the Rice tour of Detroit for the digital tourist was a good one, and not just a good one, but a tour “good enough” for Detroit and more than good enough as a hueretic model for us residents of the digital rhetorical network."--Eric Hall, Clemson University