Challenging How We Read : A Review of the Kairos Journal

In ancient Greece, philosophers established science as a parallel to religion.  In the 20th Century, humankind established a new literacy by inventing digital technology and the internet.  This innovation created yet another new avenue through which existing knowledge could be stored, categorized, shared, and disseminated – one by which new knowledge might even be created (  At the precipice of this revolutionary paradigm, a group of young academics, including Mick Doherty, Elizabeth Pass, Michael Salvo, Greg Siering, Corey Wick, Jason Teague, Amy Hanson and Joseph Unger, wondered how the disciplines of rhetoric and composition would change as a result of this innovation.  Seeing the need for a fresh voice in the field’s existing theoretical discourse, these pioneers created Kairos, an exclusively online journal which seeks to “publish scholarship that examines digital and multimodal composing practices, promoting work that enacts its scholarly argument through rhetorical and innovative uses of new media” (  For 16 years now, Kairos has largely fulfilled their mission, with the editorial team learning, adapting, and evolving as they moved forward, consistently striving to feature the most cutting-edge rhetorical scholarship authored by contributors in order to bring readers an inimitably stimulating, experimental, and valuable intellectual experience.

Obviously, the Kairos founders were onto something.  Just as the past century offered a confluence of ideas that transformed our understanding of what rhetoric can be, the dawn of the present century and its hallmark digital revolution seems poised to offer similarly-impressive digital advances in the discipline.  Though the lay of the land in the world of rhetoric and composition journals appears quite rich, this crop of scholarship stands starkly bland when placed alongside the garden-fresh diversity offered by Kairos.  The explanation for this lies in the very “new” media that embodies both the structure and focus of this distinctive publication.  Text, images, audio, and video all converge here, weaving a tapestry that is often infinitely customizable by the end user, leading to the creation of innumerable learning experiences.  When compared to traditional journals, this multimodal nature makes Kairos better able to “walk the walk” of rhetorical inquiry into the digital realm by exemplifying and putting into practice rhetorical theories dealing with media genres and modalities.  In Kairos, a delivery theory can be discussed, but it can also (often) be literally portrayed via what the reader either sees or must do while visiting the page that covers that theory.  By focusing on Kairoselevation of medium to nearly the same level as message, and by examining several recent content trends, such as nonlinearity, multimodality, and the designer-user dynamic, the present paper seeks to explicate what, exactly, the journal is today and more precisely situate it within the current rhetorical discourse.

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1 Comment

  1. Nate

     /  October 5, 2012

    This is great work…


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