My dissertation investigates how ethos—the rhetorical representation of character—accumulates over time in digital media. Through the analysis of websites and social media, I develop the concept of “cumulative ethos,” which reveals the persuasive effects of character as it evolves over time and across digital platforms. While my research investigates traditional understandings of character in individual human subjects—the provocative ethos of Kanye West, for example—I also extend the idea of "cumulative ethos" to consider the character of online organizations and virtual spaces/places. To analyze such a large digital archive (including thousands of tweets, blog posts, and news articles), I use both network analysis and sentiment analysis to uncover temporal patterns in the ways that character is constructed and eroded in online spaces. In some salient cases--such as the unconventional "iterative" release of Kanye West's 2016 album, The Life of Pablo—I also integrate these digital methods with traditional rhetorical hermeneutics to craft a more complex picture of how character develops over time in digital media.
Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities A research center of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Indiana University Bloomington social media channels