Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form


Landes, David Benjamin (2015) THE ATTENTION SITUATION: A RHETORICAL THEORY OF ATTENTION FOR MEDIATED COMMUNICATION. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB)


What are the available means of attention in a given situation? This dissertation offers a hermeneutic for everyday life that capacitates people to answer this question. The field of communication has long recognized how new technologies challenge our assumptions about how attention operates and how they urge us to reformulate the language we use to think about attention. Rather than provide one attention vocabulary suited to one media environment, this project takes a generative approach that aims to continually refresh our notions about attention at the rate of technological change. To this end, I propose a way of talking about attention as a situational process that must be described pluralistically through a rotation of vocabularies. I offer the “attention situation” as a guiding framework for how interdisciplinary discourses can coherently converge upon any given situation. Then, I illustrate the attention situation framework through a distinctly rhetorical approach to theorizing attention. Paralleling the idea that rhetoric is an architectonic art, attention too is the architecting of material, symbolic, and intentional processes. I illustrate this through many examples from paradigmatic thinkers in media and rhetorical theory. The works of Marshall McLuhan and Kenneth Burke help exemplify how the attention situation can be used to highlight the communication-sourced aspects of attention. From these attention concepts, I formulate “dramatic ecology” as a paradigm of ways that attention is formed within larger socio-technological dialectics, which provides a finer language to assess communicative situations than that of science’s mechanistic behaviorisms. The attention situation, dramatic ecology, and the material-symbolic-intentional dimensions of attention together demonstrate how attention’s cross-disciplinary discourses can be adapted into situational praxis. This rhetorical approach to attention offers a generative toolkit for continually re-theorizing attention through the changes ahead in technology, society, and culture.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Landes, David Benjamindbl3@pitt.eduDBL3
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMalin, Brent
Committee MemberLanham, Richard
Committee MemberPoulakos, John
Committee MemberMitchell, Gordon
Date: 26 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 April 2015
Approval Date: 26 September 2015
Submission Date: 22 May 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 272
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: attention, rhetoric, media, Marshall McLuhan, Kenneth Burke, rhetorical situation
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2015 01:43
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2020 05:15


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item