Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Horner, Bruce

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Williams, Bronwyn

Committee Member

Williams, Bronwyn

Committee Member

Hadley, Karen

Committee Member

Wysocki, Anne

Author's Keywords

multimodality; digital media


The multiple media that exist for communication have historically been theorized as possessing different available means for persuasion and meaning-making. The exigence of these means has been the object of theoretical debate that ranges from cultural studies, language studies, semiology, and philosophies of the mind. This dissertation contributes to such debates by sharing the results of an ethnographically informed study of multimedia composing in a digital media studio. Drawing from Cultural Historical Activity Theory and theories of enactive perception, I analyze the organizational and infrastructural design of a media studio as well as the activity of composer/designers working in said studio. Throughout this analysis I find that implicit in the organization and infrastructure of the media studio is an ethos of conceptualizing communication technology as a legitimizing force. Such an ethos is troubled by my analysis of composer/designers working in the studio, whose activities do not seek outside legitimization but instead contribute to the media milieu. Following these analyses, I conclude that media’s means for persuasion and meaning-making emerge from local practices of communication and design. Finally, I provide a framework for studying the emergence of such means.