Steve Holmes

Steve Holmes

Steve Holmes

Assistant Professor

theories and histories of rhetoric, material rhetorics, technical and professional communication, digital rhetoric, cultural rhetorics, social media, and videogames

Steve Holmes is an Assistant Professor in the department of English (writing and rhetoric) and a Faculty Affiliate in the Cultural Studies PhD program at George Mason University.

Steve teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetorical history and theory, technical communication, composition studies, and digital rhetorical. His current research agenda reflects an interdisciplinary approach by exploring connections between material rhetorics and emerging philosophical conversations related to vitalism, media ecology (and archaeology), assemblage theory, new materialism, and actor-network theory. His previous publications have applied these theoretical paradigms to a variety of digital practices, including videogames, trolling (Anonymous), doxxing, digital humanities, code (and software studies), networked art, augmented reality apps, eBooks, and mobile media. Steve also researches in professional writing and technical communication in areas such as social media ethics, data analytics (and habitus), tactical technical communication, social justice, and queer theory.

His research enjoys national recognition, including the reception of the 2017 Nell Ann Pickett Award for the top article ("From Noob Guides") in Technical Communication Quarterly, which is the flagship journal of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.


Current Research

Steve is the author Procedural Habits: The Rhetoric of Videogames as Embodied Practice (Routledge, Fall 2017) explores philosophical and rhetorical conceptions of habit (hexis) as a lens to analyze the increasing alignment of habit and rhetoric in videogames, gamification, and algorithmic cultures in the present moment.

With Jared S. Colton, he has published Rhetoric, Technology, and the Virtues (Utah State University Press, Fall 2018), which engages past and contemporary approaches to virtue ethics for theorizing the rhetoric of social media.

Steve's in progress book with Jared S. Colton and Avery Edenfield examines how transgender individuals compose and disseminate DIY medical literacy in social media forums as an form of queer tactical technical communication, embodied ethics, and cultural rhetoric.


Selected Publications

Rhetoric Review Symposium Issue: “Revitalizing Virtue Ethics in a Networked Age,” co-edited with John Duffy and John Gallagher. Contributors include Cagle Lauren, Steve Holmes and Jared Colton, Caddie Alford, Scot Barnett, John Gage, Lois Agnew, John Schilb, and Eric Leake. Fall 2018.

“Empty Templates: The Ethical Habits of Empty State Pages,” with John Gallagher. Technical Communication Quarterly. Forthcoming 2018.

"From NoobGuides to #OpKKK: Ethics of Anonymous’ Tactical Technical Communication," with Jared S. Colton and Josephine Walwema." Technical Communication Quarterly. 26.1 (2017): 59-75.

"A Social Justice Theory of Active Equality for Technical Communication," with Jared S. Colton. Journal of Business and Technical Communication. 48.1 (2017); 59-75.

“Cultivating Metanoia in Twitter Publics: Analyzing and Producing Bots of Protest in the #GamerGate Controversy,” with Rachael Graham Lussos. Computers and Composition (Summer 2018).

"Can We Name the Tools? Ontologies of Code, Speculative Techné and Rhetorical Concealment." Computational Culture's special issue on the Rhetoric of Code. Eds. James J. Brown Jr. and Annette Vee. 5 (2016).


Grants and Fellowships

With Doug Eyman, Beth Hoffman, and Seth Hudson (Game Design), Steve received a $25,000 start up grant from Mason's Students as Scholars program to develop an undergraduate gaming research lab (GEAR):

Courses Taught

ENGH 824: Rhetorical Invention and Critical Making

ENGH 726: Public Rhetorics

ENGH 308: Theory and Inquiry

ENGH 505: Document Design

ENGH 376/508: Digital Rhetoric and New Media

ENGH 388: Professional Writing

ENGH 302: Advanced Writing (Humanities)

ENGH 488: Topics in Rhetoric and Writing (Material Rhetorics & New Media)

ENGH 697: Composition Theory


Steve earned his PhD at Clemson University's Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design Program in 2013.

M.A. in English Language and Literature, Washington State University, May 2008.

B.A. (Honors) in English Language and Literature, Washington State University, May 2006.

In the Media

2018 interview with Vegas Tenold on the ethics of doxxing in the New Republic (forthcoming)

2017 interview on ethics and hacktivism Jonathan Ellis with Argus Leader (part of the USA Today network):

Steve is a Featured Educator for teaching procedural rhetorics on GameSalad's website:

Interview/news about GEAR:

Dissertations Supervised

Elizabeth Caravella, Teaching Gamefully: Proceduralizing the Writing Classroom through Possibility Space Pedagogy (2019)