empathy Empathy Empathy

trisha  N.  

Makes | Teaches | Practices | Listens


Assistant Professor of Writing + Digital Rhetoric

I teach writing, digital rhetoric and production, digital storytelling, and methods.
At the heart of my work are enduring questions around the ethical, the rhetorical, the public, the body, and the digital. I take up each of these both separately and together through my art installations, articles, practices, pedagogies, and civically engaged or community centered work. More specifically, I spend most of my time thinking about how violence circulates visually and digitally in networks, how empathy lacks, and how contagious our affects have become. I use actor-network theory, affect theory, network theory, and new materialist rhetoric to discuss 21st-century violence, digital publics, race, and our radically connected inhabitancy of the world. 
My work attempts to perform rhetorical listening and rhetorical empathy through and with publics, performance, and found media, archives, and voices.



Ventriloquizing with Digital Prosopopoeia


For me, what’s so remarkable about the rhetorical practice of prosopopeia is that it is a practice as one part of the progymnasmata, meaning it has to be performed by the body and voice over and again as part of a series of learning practices, and in the literature about this practice, the end goal is rarely mentioned; it is not stated, as Rogerian rhetoric suggests, that the practice is part of forming a larger worldview nor even achieving the end goal of empathy, nor even better argument; it is quite simply just one part of the progymnasmata rhetorical exercises, where the student learns in and through the practice without focusing on the produced, finished piece, or end goal.

In this way, the goal is the practice itself.


I am Josephine Miles: A Digital Reprocessing

When I first found Josephine Miles (1911-1985), she was a poet. When I found her for a second time, she was a compositionist. I was struck by her ability to seamlessly work as a poet, critic, and compositionist, but also the way in which she allowed all those things to bleed into one another in order to amplify and deepen her own intellectual inquiries.  I was struck, too, by the way her method had something to say to us now about the relationship between past, present, and future. I wanted to recover not only her forgotten trajectory—her method—but also her intellectual disposition for our disciplinary history. I wanted to bring her back to life in so many ways. So I decided to use my body to inhabit her archives--to bring her back to digital life. 


Digital Empathy: A Practice-Based Experiment


digital empathy (1).png

This article began, long before these words were written, as a digital-theoretical experiment and provocation in what it might mean and how it might sound if I were to speak with the digitally recorded voice of another—and not just any other, not my family or friends, but someone whose experience lies far outside of my own. At first thought, this could be the recorded voice of a mother or father, or a religious grandmother. Or, still further, this could be the voice of someone who feels alienated: Police chiefs, Muslim leaders, gang leaders, domestic violence survivors,1 differently raced lives,2and so on. I began by wondering how we could—as digital rhetoricians—cross boundaries and divisions of all kinds using archives of voices (voices dead and alive,3 past and future,4 old and young, those with dissimilar affective states, and so on), and I wondered what digital tools and affordances we could use to extend our own positionalities and affects or to imagine new relations altogether. 





Writing for Digital Environments  || Course website

Writing Program Issues || Course Website

Rhetoric and Fake News || Course Tumblr

Writing for the Web: Digital Rhetoric || Course Website

Composition III: Rhetorical Argument || Course Website

Methods for Rhetoric + Composition || Course Website

Introduces graduate students to varying methods, designs, and methods for research in rhetoric and composition. It focuses on ways of developing complex research problems and questions, designing studies, and conducting, reading and evaluating research. Yet it also asks students to think creatively and critically about method. How can method be generative, but also a trained incapacity?

Digital Storytelling || Course Syllabus

Students explore the contemporary craft of digital storytelling, considering how this enduring practice has evolved and changed with the affordances of digital media. We take up both the theory and practice of digital storytelling through reading, listening, watching, discussing, and producing. Using text, audio, visual, and video in concert with thorough research and narrative composition, this course will introduce students to and provide repeated practice in using digital media for composing compelling digital stories. In the process, we will consider the questions: What are stories for? Whose stories get told and whose don't? What kinds of cultural work can they do? Do we need multiple stories? Multiple accounts of the same story? Whose responsibility is it to tell and capture stories? And how do different media shape these stories?

Writing for the Web: Rhetorical Publics || Course Website

This course provides an undergraduate-level introduction to both the theory and practice of writing for the web. Students explore the complex theory around "digital rhetoric," analyze how digital texts are newly persuasive by looking closely at interfaces, video texts, social media, sonic elements, and their affects and rhetoric. Though no previous experience is necessary, students are expected to learn basic mark-up languages and become capable producers of their own digital texts. Through theoretical discussions, collaboration, and hands-on experimentation, students will become critical users and makers of digital media and texts.

Composing Digital Media: The Art of Missing Information || University of Pittsburgh | Course Website

Through the practice of digital production, this class explores the idea of the missing photograph:the picture that was not taken, the story never recorded, the history failed. These are the moments of capture that could not or did not happen. Sometimes these moments are unrepresentable. Yet the reasons behind missing photos, documents, and stories are complex and various. This class will explore the art of missing information through our own intentional acts of composition -- our own pieces of media -- and thus work to construct new and different knowledge along the way. The act of making media is a productive act--makes. And so as we consider each of our projects in this class, we will also consider what is missing or un-documented, and how we can lend voice to the missing.

Written Professional Communication || University of Pittsburgh | Course Website

This writing-intensive course is both a practical and theoretical course, one where we create and analyze the kinds of textual and visual documents students will likely be asked to produce in their future professional lives.