For some time, there has been a pressing need for studies that approach murder as something other than a pathological, criminological, or sociological problem to be explained, analyzed, and resolved. In this talk, I take up a new materialist approach to murder, arguing, first, that we must begin by postponing blame, and, second, that inner-city murder is distributed through multiple key non-human rhetorical agents before and leading up to the violent act itself–and that any meaningful intervention must first account for and trace these agents. Using new materialist rhetoric, affect theory, and discourse analysis, I share my research on murder as it happens across, and in part because of, the partial agency of social networks, where language, discourse, and affect intra-act and resonate contagiously. Through a case study of a 2014 “murder-event” in Pittsburgh, PA, I illustrate how Facebook and Twitter become agential actors in murder themselves. Ultimately, my research suggests that individual agency is no longer sufficient and that we must, instead listen to other powerful rhetorical agents and their networks, which have thus far been excluded, as a new intervention into violence in the 21st century.
See below for a Storify recap of this Digital Dialogue, including links to resources and projects that Dr. Campbell referenced during her talk.
Trisha Campbell is an Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric with a designated emphasis on Digital Rhetoric and Theory. Her work on the murder networks is finding audiences at national conferences and internationally peer-reviewed journals. Her work discusses an array of issues on race, human and non human agents, network logic, and new materialist rhetoric with regard to violence, digital publics, and our radically connected inhabitancy of the world. To this end, she teaches, makes, and composes projects–digital and textual, creative and critical–that imagine work in the humanities to be hinged on an interceding praxis. She is currently revising her manuscript, Murder Networks.