As more and more digital publics emerge as generative sites for cross-cultural communication and social action, it becomes imperative for us to critically question the ways in which these spaces operate not only as platforms from which to speak, but also as platforms from which to silence. By looking at digital publics through the lens of genre and critical discourse theory, I argue that the dis/empowering and (de)linking of speakers is an intrinsic part of public discourse and one that deserves further scrutiny. Through an analysis of the global feminist blog, Gender Across Borders (GAB), this project questions the ways in which the fostering and foreclosing of public discourse relies on the rhetorical practices communities use to respond to a shared exigence. More specifically, this project interrogates the disconnection between an audience invoked (through a stated exigence of fostering a global feminist community) and an audience addressed (through the discursive and rhetorical practices of western academic feminism) by highlighting how ideologies and social relations are (re)produced. Such a disconnect can be located in the ways in which the discourses of western academic feminism and citizen journalism on GAB work to encode ideologies of power and social relations that privilege particular experiences and representations of women. These representations necessarily obscure difference, revealing a rupture between the blog's exigence and social action. In using Gender Across Borders as a case study, this project suggests that rhetorical approaches to digital publics warrant a critical examination of the ideological social relations (re)produced through the discursive practices of genres.

About the Author(s)

Jessica Ouellette is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research interests include transnational feminist methodologies, feminist rhetorical practices, and digital media studies. She currently teaches undergraduate courses on digital rhetorics, gender and sexuality studies, and professional and technical writing.



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