Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Richard Marback


My dissertation answers two questions: Does the tension between interactive technologies and rhetoric re-shape the nature and relevance of the canon of memory? Do interactive technologies affect the ways we remember and persuade? I argue that my interpretation of techne suggests possibilities for the creation and production of new types of memory in combination with digital media. To interrogate this connection, I suggest three interpretations of the Greek concept, techne: as a process that is inherently productive; as a force that renegotiates contemporary sources of social power; and as a skill that balances expert knowledge with instrumentality. I explore the creative possibilities of "making memory" in several examples such as digital archives, photo manipulation, and digital collaborative pedagogy.

In Chapter One, I begin by reviewing how memory has been employed since its characterization as one of the five canons. Starting with Plato's "Phaedrus" and ending with Merlin Donald's Origins of the Modern Mind and Collin Gifford Brooke's Lingua Fracta, my thorough treatment of memory illustrates that even though memory has persisted through the centuries, it has not been properly adapted as a foundation of rhetoric for use in connection with information technologies.

Chapter Two is a critical exploration of techne as well as an argument that states how techne and memory should be thought of as complimentary forces. New technologies afford users the possibilities to create and replicate memories, thus understanding techne as a characteristic of digital memory is critical for contemporary rhetorical practices.

Chapter Three is an exploration of three digital archives: The Wayback Machine, The 9/11 Digital Archive, and The Soweto '76 Archive. By looking at digital archives, I argue that visitors are encouraged to participate in memory making, indicating a shift from consumerist trends of memory towards productive memorial spaces. I use the term "technemonic" to suggest the devices, spaces, or tokens (digital or otherwise) that we make or collect to remember a particular event.

In chapter four, I argue that memory is a persuasive construct--it is not a concrete structure, as we tend to think it is, but rather it is extremely fluid and easily subjected to recreation by the slightest suggestive details. I examine two specific vectors of memory manipulation: external photo manipulation and internal cognitive manipulation.

Chapter Five questions the implications of technologies used through the process of techne to change the canon of memory. This final chapter will discuss how technologies have always affected memory and why those influences are critical to contemporary rhetoric studies. In particular, Chapter Five will deal with the new sources and boundaries of control individuals have (or do not have) over their digital memories.