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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Donna LeCourt

Second Advisor

Anne Herrington

Third Advisor

Jon Olsen

Subject Categories

Other Rhetoric and Composition | Rhetoric


This dissertation takes up a question posed by Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford in 2009: “In a world of participatory media—of Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, Twitter, and—what relevance does the term audience hold?” Using a case study methodology (e.g., Dyson and Genishi; Stake; Yin), I examine how three popular internet writers—all writers who engage with political issues in different venues—conceptualize their audiences and respond to audience feedback. Using established scholarship about audience, including Ede and Lunsford’s work, as well as newer digital scholarship (e.g., Arola, Carnegie, Edbauer Rice), I extend the existing conversation on audience to the context of digital textual production. Rather than understanding participatory audiences as monolithic, my dissertation breaks up the concept of participation in order to represent its dynamic effects on the broader notion of audience. Drawing upon my case studies of current web writers, I introduce three important concepts: audience emerging, audience managed, and audience oriented. The first, audience emerging, shows us the unexplored relationship between Ede and Lunsford’s canonical terms, addressed and invoked. Understanding the nature of this oscillating relationship situates writer awareness of audience as an emerging, recursive process, much like other elements in the contemporary understanding of the writing process. Audience managed illuminates ways that a web-writer can marshal members into a community and initiate discursive norms. Her writing in this community, funneled through the template, then creates the community’s expectations and conventions. Audience oriented shows the ways in which a writer can guide their audience toward the formation of a public. Overall, this research highlights the way writers imagine and experience their audience in ongoing, continuous ways.