Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Humanities

Advisor 1

Michael Bowler

Committee Member 1

Robert R. Johnson

Committee Member 2

Stefka Hristova

Committee Member 3

Charles Wallace


The dissertation analyzes digitization through a phenomenological lens, understanding the digitization as an “outgrowth” of a potential that was always already latent within our being as the human-being. The analysis primarily utilizes the philosophic work of the 20th century philosophers, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Through their philosophies, I seek to synthesize Heidegger’s concept of de-severance with Merleau-Ponty’s concepts of embodiment and the world as possessing depth. In doing so, I bring these theoretical concepts together to build a phenomenological “picture” of how it is that the digitization of the world came into being. All the while, my ultimate project is seeking and displaying the underlying drive, or will, that occurs when human de-severance, our particular embodiment, and our unique access to the world as depth discover within the world the potential to digitize.

This will, and the result of the interplay between human de-severance, embodiment, and the world’s depth is the-will-to-flatten. In putting forth this theory, I analyze how the will-to-flatten via digitization has influenced our understandings and engagement with embodiment, space, and intersubjectivity. While I argue that the will-to-flatten is the driving force of digitization, I ultimately seek to display that the telos of this will is a paradox that cannot be resolved.