Trace Journal, Issue 4: Writing New Material for Digital Culture

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Trace: Journal of Writing, Media, and Ecology
contact email: 

New Material for Digital Culture

Writing New Material for Digital Culture, the fourth issue of Trace: Journal of Writing, Media, and Ecology, aims to explore new materialist approaches to the digital. For new materialist and object-oriented philosophies continue to play a prominent role in discourses on digital media. Theorists such as Bruno Latour (2005), Jane Bennett (2010), and Ian Bogost (2012)  prompt us to conceive of the material world as a “vibrant” network of objects endowed with agency, intention, and desire. Scholars in rhetoric and new media, such as Alexander Reid (2012), Jussi Parikka (2015), and David Rieder (2017)  have begun to extend new materialist philosophies into an examination of our historical and contemporary relationship to electronic media and digital culture. This emerging trend posits that digital artifacts not only enact material effects within diverse media ecologies but actively resist the strict binaries between “the digital” and “the physical” that often circulate in discussions of new media and inform ecological thought.

In Still Life with Rhetoric, Laurie Gries outlines her new materialist approach to rhetoric by claiming that “a thing’s rhetorical meaning is constituted by the consequences that emerge in its various material encounters, affects, and intra-actions” (29). Gries pursues her new materialist rhetoric by tracing the digital and material circulation of the famous Obama Hope image. In a similar vein, Nicole Starosielski takes a new materialist approach by bringing to surface the overlooked structures of undersea cable networks that physically support Internet services. Lastly, Lori Emerson’s work with the Media Archaeology Lab at UC-Boulder demonstrates the importance of engaging with the material traces of our digital histories, from magic lanterns and typewriters to early modems and video game systems. The diverse methods taken up by these scholars serve as just a few examples of how new materialism offers a productive framework for grounding the study of digital rhetoric and media.

Trace encourages submissions to this issue in a variety of media and formats about a variety of media and formats, including commercial technologies, new media art and electronic literature, games and game platforms, etc. Potential submission topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Rhetorics of specific digital or material texts and artifacts

  • Transmedia/multimodal writing pedagogies

  • Material effects of planned obsolescence and e-waste

  • Emerging ubiquitous computing technologies

  • Materialities of writing, narrative, and information design

  • Media archaeological approaches to old and new media

  • Embodied computing and posthuman rhetorics

  • Augmented reality and locative media

  • Ambient rhetorics and literatures

Multimedia submissions are accepted and encouraged - Trace can support text, video, image, sound, game, and other file formats. Completed articles will be peer-reviewed and should be between 4000-8000 words in length. Please use MLA 8 formatting. If you are interested in contributing to the Trace Innovation Initiative’s fourth issue, please submit your finalized project to by May 1, 2018.

If you would like to propose topics or discuss ideas, feel free to email questions to the issue co-editors: Caleb Milligan ( and Jacob Greene (

For more information about Trace, please visit For information about peer-review or if you would like to participate in the review process, please email