Necro-rhetorics: Agency, ethical interventions, and the digital corpse



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Digital legacies and immortality have never been more important to our lives than they are now. The growing connection between technology and mourning necessitates the critical examination of our digital literacies in connection with death and dying as digital citizens. I argue for a rhetoric of digital death, what I have termed a Necro-Rhetoric, that investigates, among other things, the semiotic and material constructions of death, the definition of “person,” and the necropolitics of dying at the technology-human interface. I ultimately argue that we imbue dead bodies with rhetorical agency, creating disjuncture in the issue of rhetorical address, yet continue to treat the dead and dying citizen as nonagential. I use a material-semiotic analysis to reexamine traditional theories of rhetoric for the mutually interactive environment of the digital world. Taking a broad definition of “digital,” I explore the invocation of death as a rhetorical tool, the relationship of death and technology (especially social media), and then the racialized discourse and necropolitics of dying in online spaces.



Rhetoric, Agency, Necropolitics, Digital, Technology, Mourning, Grief, Grieving