Steve Holmes

Steve Holmes

Steve Holmes

Assistant Professor

Writing and Rhetoric: theories and histories of rhetoric, material rhetorics, continental philosophy, digital rhetoric, videogames, mobile media, cultural studies, composition pedagogy

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 theory, technical communication, composition studies, and digital media. 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's single-author book project, 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.

His co-authored book project with Jared S. Colton, Rhetoric, Technology, and the Virtues (Utah State University Press, Fall 2018) explores past and contemporary approaches to virtue ethics for use in contemporary digital media.


Selected Publications

"Cultivating Metanoia in Twitter Publics: Analyzing and Producing Bots of Protest in the #Gamergate Controversy," with Rachael Graham Lussos. Computers and Composition (May 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.

"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).

“Rhetorical Allegorithms in Bitcoin” Enculturation: a journal of rhetoric, writing and culture 17 (2014).

Multiple Bodies, Actants, and the Composition Classroom: Actor-Network Theory in Practice,” Rhetoric Review 33.2 (Oct. 2014).


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

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

Interview/news about GEAR: