September 25, 2023

Ohl Publishes Essay on Visual Rhetoric of Drone Imagery

Jessy-J-OhlThe latest essay by Jessy J. Ohl, assistant professor of communication, has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Speech 101.4 (2016): 1-21. That essay, titled “Nothing to See or Fear: Light War and the Boring Visual Rhetoric of U.S. Drone Imagery,” theorizes a transformation in 21st-century war rhetoric in which obstructions in public sensation insulate war from opposition.

In contrast to overt persuasive appeals for the mass mobilization of society characteristic of “total war,” “light war” is a mode of violence that operates more freely by placing fewer demands on public reception, participation and approval. Through an analysis of U.S. drone imagery between 2008 and 2011, Ohl argues that light war cultivates social acquiescence to violence through boring visual rhetoric that subverts the capacity to sense the material consequences of war.

In the process of theorizing the anesthetizing force of boring rhetoric, the essay assesses the prospects of peace and outlines future directions for rhetorical scholarship in a post-9/11 landscape.

See for the full essay.