Gestures of Concern

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 18 illustrations Published: August 2020

Author: Chris Ingraham

Cultural Studies > Affect Theory, Media Studies > Communication

In Gestures of Concern Chris Ingraham shows that while gestures such as sending a “Get Well” card may not be instrumentally effective, they do exert an intrinsically affective force on a field of social relations. From liking, sharing, posting, or swiping to watching a TED Talk or wearing an “I Voted” sticker, such gestures operate as much through affective registers as they do through overt symbolic action. Ingraham demonstrates that gestures of concern are central to establishing the necessary conditions for larger social or political change because they give the everyday aesthetic and rhetorical practices of public life the capacity to attain some socially legible momentum. Rather than supporting the notion that vociferous public communication is the best means for political and social change, Ingraham advances the idea that concerned gestures can help to build the affective communities that orient us to one another with an imaginable future in mind. Ultimately, he shows how acts that many may consider trivial or banal are integral to establishing those background conditions capable of fostering more inclusive social or political change.


“Chris Ingraham is a lively and engaging writer. While crafting beautiful prose he exhibits remarkable patience with trivial—often ephemeral—objects. Thus, he gives us ample opportunity to appreciate their public relevance and the role they play in helping to constitute public life in the internet age. And all of this he draws under the aegis of ‘gestures of concern’—a gem of a concept that makes a significant contribution to rhetoric, political theory, and public sphere theory.” — Ted Striphas, author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control

“Laying out precisely why gestures of concern are significant and reminding us that there are never any empty gestures, Chris Ingraham offers a timely response to a certain reductive political discourse that sees meaning only in terms of representation. This book is a real pleasure to read.” — Jenny Rice, author of Distant Publics: Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis

“This argument will be of interest to scholars of contemporary society, particularly its digital encounters, and the book’s focus on the nonsymbolic will have implications for the study of communication, media, and rhetoric.” — Matthew Halm, Critical Studies in Media Communication


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Chris Ingraham is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Utah and coeditor of LEGOfied: Building Blocks as Media.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. The Shape We're In  1
1. Idiot Winds  23
2. Stickiness  51
3. Democratizing Creativity, Curating Culture  78
4. Citizen Artists, Citizen Critics  108
5. Uncommonwealth  133
6. Affective Commonwealths  161
Epilogue. The Poet and the Anthropocene  187
Notes  197
Bibliography  225
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0951-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0858-3