Robert Glenn Howard

Robert Glenn Howard's picture
  • Professor
  • Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture
Office Hours:
  • By appointment
Expertise and Activities: 

I am Director of Digital Studies and Professor of Communication, Religious Studies, and Folklore in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I am also editor of the journal Western Folklore.Most broadly, my research seeks to uncover the possibilities and limits of empowerment through everyday expression on the Internet by focusing on the intersection of individual human agency and participatory performance.I engage rhetorical theory, critical cultural theories, as well as theories of performance and performativity to explore the ways that everyday people combine their cultural and technological resources to perform their unique identities in relation to larger groups. New communication technologies are increasing the opportunities for individuals to both perform and be observed. In these public and semi-public moments of interaction, the possibilities for transformation through discourse are extended. Using ethnographic fieldwork methods, I engage online expression in order to better understand its potential--and, when necessary, consider its pitfalls.Most recently, I am exploring how the increasing reliance on "vernacular webs" of online communication are beginning to trump the authority of more traditional information sources such as mass media. I am particularly interested in how both institutional and traditional sources for health information are giving way to the aggregated voice of thousands of everyday users exchanging their own ideas through web-based forums. In this increasing phenomenon, the power of the "the folk" is being expanded by new media technologies.

Articles

  • 2012. "'The Homo Depot' and Other Works: Toward a Critique of Vernacular Video." Cinema Journal , 51: 191-197 .
  • 2010. "Enacting a Virtual 'Ekklesia:' Online Christian Fundamentalism as Vernacular Religion." New Media and Society , 12 (5): 729-744 , http://rghoward.com/research/Howard.NMS.vernafunda.10.pdf .
  • 2008. "The Vernacular Web of Participatory Media." Critical Studies in Media Communication , 25 (December): 490-512 , http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a904854674~db=cost~order=page .
  • 2008. "Electronic Hybridity: The Persistent Processes of the Vernacular Web." Journal of American Folklore , 121 (Spring): 192-218 , http://rghoward.com/research/Howard.JAF.4.08.pdf .
  • 2008. "Vernacular Media, Vernacular Belief: Locating Christian Fundamentalism in the Vernacular Web." Western Folklore , 69: 409-429 .
  • 2006. "Sustainability and Narrative Plasticity in Online Apocalyptic Discourse after September 11, 2001." Journal of Media and Religion , 5 (1): 25-47 , http://rghoward.com/research/howsus2.pdf .
  • 2005. "A Theory of Vernacular Rhetoric: The Case of the Sinners Prayer Online." Folklore , 116 (2): 72-188 , http://rghoward.com/research/howath.pdf .
  • 2005. "Toward a Theory of the Worldwide Web Vernacular: The Case for Pet Cloning." Journal of Folklore Research , 42: 323-360 .
  • 2005. "Who Posts DeCSS and Why?: A Content Analysis of Web Sites Posting DVD Circumvention Software (with Kristin R. Eschenfelder and Anuj C. Desai)." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Tech , 56: 1405-1418 .
  • 2005. "The Double Bind of the Protestant Reformation: The Birth of Fundamentalism and the Necessity of Pluralism." Journal of Church and State , 47: 91-108 , http://rghoward.com/research/howdoub.pdf .
  • 2005. "Sustainability and Radical Rhetorical Closure: The Case of the 1996 'Heaven's Gate' Newsgroup Campaign." Journal of Communication and Religion , 2005 , http://rghoward.com/research/howsus.pdf .
  • 1997. "Apocalypse in your In-Box: End-Times Communication on the Internet." Western Folklore , 56: 295-315 , http://rghoward.com/research/howapoc.pdf .

Courses

  • CA 969 - Vernacular Discourse
  • CA 969 - Seminar in the Rhetorical Theory of Kenneth Burke
  • CA 976 - Ethnographic Methods for Rhetorical Analysis
  • CA 478 - Rhetorical Analysis for Internet Discourse
  • FLR 560 - Folklore in a Digital Age
  • CA 610 / FLR 530 - Ethnography and Internet Communities
  • CA 570 - Classical Rhetorical Theory
  • CA 472 - Rhetoric and Technology
  • CA 347 / RS 347 - Rhetoric of Religion
  • CA 522 / FLR 522 - Digitally Documenting Everyday Discourse
  • CA 200 - Introduction to Digital Communication