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Digital Detroit

Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network

Jeff Rice

Publication Year: 2012

Since the 1967 riots that ripped apart the city, Detroit has traditionally been viewed either as a place in ruins or a metropolis on the verge of rejuvenation. In Digital Detroit: Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network, author Jeff Rice goes beyond the notion of Detroit as simply a city of two ideas. Instead he explores the city as a web of multiple meanings which, in the digital age, come together in the city’s spaces to form a network that shapes the writing, the activity, and the very thinking of those around it.

Rice focuses his study on four of Detroit’s most iconic places—Woodward Avenue, the Maccabees Building, Michigan Central Station, and 8 Mile—covering each in a separate chapter. Each of these chapters explains one of the four features of network rhetoric: folksono(me), the affective interface, response, and decision making. As these rhetorical features connect, they form the overall network called Digital Detroit. Rice demonstrates how new media, such as podcasts, wikis, blogs, interactive maps, and the Internet in general, knit together Detroit into a digital network whose identity is fluid and ever-changing. In telling Detroit’s spatial story, Rice deftly illustrates how this new media, as a rhetorical practice, ultimately shapes understandings of space in ways that computer applications and city planning often cannot. The result is a model for a new way of thinking and interacting with space and the imagination, and for a better understanding of the challenges network rhetorics pose for writing.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. 1-14

It has become common to begin a work about space with a quotation from Michel de Certeau. Indeed, de Certeau’s “Walking in the City” serves as a canonical marker of the possibilities space offers rhetorical studies. Its opening fragment, “Seeing Manhattan from the...

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1. Networks, Place, and Rhetoric

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pp. 15-55

A December 15, 2005, Saturday Night Live prerecorded skit entitled “Lazy Sunday” featured comics Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg as urban New Yorkers who rap about their day in the city and subsequent decision to see the film The Chronicles of Narnia.1 At one point in the...

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2. Woodward Avenue

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pp. 56-101

My mapping of Detroit begun in chapter 1 leads me to a specific representation (or sensation) along the city’s main road, Woodward Avenue. Woodward Avenue is the centerpiece of my mapping route that I described in the previous chapter; it is the road I would take to and...

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3. The Maccabees

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pp. 102-142

The English department at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan, is housed at 5057 Woodward Avenue in the Maccabees Building, a 1927 building designed by the famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn. The Maccabees were a secret order whose origins are traced to both the...

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4. The Michigan Central Train Station

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pp. 143-185

In Urban Encounters, Helen Liggett writes, “If photography is seen as the art of making (not taking) pictures, the possibility emerges for using it as a productive part of city life. From this perspective, photographic images bring memory and experience together, attracting meanings...

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5. 8 Mile

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pp. 186-230

In Kick Out the Jams, a part of Continuum Press’s 33 1/3 series on rock albums and contemporary culture, Don McLeese provides a brief commentary and history of one of Detroit’s best known bands, the MC5, and their influential album Kick Out the Jams. Early in the book...


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pp. 231-234

Works Cited

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pp. 235-244


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pp. 245-247

Author Bio

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809330881
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330874

Publication Year: 2012