Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures



First Advisor

Mindy Fenske

Second Advisor

Byron Hawk


Tactical Encounters: Material Rhetoric and the Politics of Tactical Media articulates the concept of material rhetorical tactics, discrete rhetorical moves effecting political and social change, however ephemeral. I argue that material rhetorical tactics do not necessarily originate or conclude with a human subject, and that to understand this, we must reorient our conceptions of rhetorical action, agency, and, ultimately, its relationship to the demos, to include actions, actors, agents, and events that are not, in themselves, human. I build on recent work in rhetorical theory that has conceptualized the function and nature of rhetoric as involving agents human and nonhuman, linked together in ecologies that exceed intentional, human rhetorical “situations.” I argue that these ecologies still need a concept of rhetorical tactics, which I develop in this dissertation. To develop this concept, I analyze a media practice called “tactical media,” which is the use of media devices and systems for social and political change through hacking, altering, perverting, or redirecting their functions. This practice shows itself as a privileged site for this analysis, since it attempts to effect sociopolitical change by and through technical media. I develop a concept of material rhetorical tactics that implicates multiple materialities and forces, to model effective tactics once the role of human agency is reoriented.


© 2015, Anthony Michael Stagliano