Rhetorical Agency in Digital Storytelling: New Americans' Voices in the Chthulucene
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This study explores New American (refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers) storytelling and agency through Donna Haraway’s concepts of the Chthulucene (pronounced thulusene), making kin, and staying with the trouble. Haraway’s framework positions this study in the Chthulucene era, where humans recognize that solving global issues requires making connections and taking collaborative action. This study demonstrates how New Americans can create counter-narratives through Digital Storytelling (DST) in the Chthulucene. An analysis of ten New American participants’ DST processes and story choices is provided. This research responds to three main questions: How do New Americans shape their digital stories through specific choices and how do these choices display agency? What do their storytelling processes reveal about agency through their rhetorical and linguistic choices? Finally, how do New Americans display their agency in multimodal storytelling? Participatory Action Research (PAR) is used to frame the research questions. Alongside the collaborative, flexible, and adaptable nature of PAR, the Story Center’s Digital Storytelling (DST) model was selected as the appropriate approach to facilitate DST workshops for New American participants. Three separate workshops included ten New American participants from different backgrounds. Approaches such as focus groups, story workshop reflections, and individual interviews were used to respond to the research questions. After transcribing focus groups and individual interviews, all data was coded using Grounded Theory. The findings suggest that participants make storytelling process, rhetorical, linguistic, and multimodal story choices by being intentional in using their original voice and agency as counter-narrators. Participants’ storytelling process choices indicate that past storytelling constricted their agency while DST provided an opportunity for their agency to be visible. Furthermore, participants’ rhetorical choices demonstrate their audience and situational awareness. In addition, linguistic choices illustrate that participants’ understanding and use of English demonstrates translingual practices. Moreover, multimodal story choices display their innovation and commitment to personal intentional storytelling. Additionally, participants' experiences in storytelling and how they implement their agency varies by individual. This study demonstrates what doing research and practicing pedagogy that operates in the Chthulucene might look like for Rhetoric and Writing Studies to remain relevant.