- Assistant Professor
- 6187 Helen C. White Hall
- E-mail Jim Brown
- Rhetoric, new media studies, software studies
My background is in Rhetoric and Composition and New Media Studies. These interests reflect my somewhat unconventional path to academia. After earning a B.S. in Communications at Ohio University in 2000, I worked as a circuit designer at Worldcom for three years. I left Worldcom, but my interest in technology remained. I then earned my M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon in 2004 and my Ph.D. in English (with a specialization in Digital Literacies and Literatures) from the University of Texas in 2009. My research focuses on how digital technologies call for new theories of rhetoric and writing. I am especially interested in thinking of software with the tools of rhetorical theory and composition studies. I see computer programming as a form of writing and argument, and I think the field of Rhetoric and Composition can be part of a discussion about the ethical, rhetorical, and cultural implications of software. In fact, I teach some computer programming in my English courses. At UW, I will teach courses in Rhetoric and Composition, and I am also affiliated with UW Madison’s brand new undergraduate program in Digital Studies. I’m excited to be part of this interdisciplinary effort to teach students digital literacy and digital media production.
My work has been published in College Composition and Communication, The Computer Culture Reader, The Responsibilities of Rhetoric, and various other venues. I am currently at work on a book project entitled “Ethical Programs” that investigates the ethical and rhetorical underpinnings of networked software environments. Networked software relies upon the arrival of various others in order to function, but that same software must also find ways to filter, sift, and sort those others. These sorting mechanisms institute what I call “ethical programs,” which express the deep ethical commitments of various communities. The project examines various digital environments, including Twitter, Wikipedia, and the 2008 Obama presidential campaign’s social networking website.