The Art of Invective: Performing Identity in Cyberspace

TitleThe Art of Invective: Performing Identity in Cyberspace
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsVrooman, Steven S.
JournalNew Media & Society
KeywordsCMC, computer-mediated communication, cuelessness, digital, emotion, flaming; genre; identity; invective; performance; the dozens; rant;, medium

This article examines the common computer-mediated communication (CMC) phenomenon of 'flaming' from a rhetorical perspective, situating the phenomenon diachronically in the histories of invective in art and society. An examination of the notorious alt.flame newsgroup draws connections between the political and sexual content of the flames and the rants and dozens genres of invective. The article concludes with an argument against the still prevalent media-determinant view that holds that flaming is somehow caused by the medium of CMC itself. Given the strategic nature of the different kinds of flames, it makes more sense to view them as performative enactments of identity which stress either group or individual identity depending on the genre of invective utilized by the flamer. This article demonstrates that the more historical approach offered by rhetorical criticism gives a vital perspective to an area of study from which rhetorical critics have for too long been absent.

URL<Go to ISI>://000174505000003
Short TitleNew Media Soc.