Gut Rhetorics: Toward Experiments in Living with Microbiota

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Jason Kalin
David R. Gruber


When considering the material ecologies of the human body, we must consider the bodies within—at least five hundred known species of microbes. We propose the term gut rhetorics to highlight how our guts have become an environment to which we are exposed: a biologically active actant contributing to the physiology and psychology—the rhetorical capacities—of the human body. Gut rhetorics incorporate—bring into the body and, importantly, into the body of rhetoric—the hungry horde within human bodies. First, we trace one probiotic formulation across three scientific studies to show how bodies, affects, and microbes are being “calibrated” at the level of experiment. Second, we stress skilled probiotic experimentation and encourage scholars to play amid environments, give attention to embodiment, and pursue phenomenological inquiry (Gruber, 2018; Melonçon, 2018). Gut rhetorics consider bodies, affects, and microbiota as entangled metabolic intra-actions that affect how the world appears to the body and the body to the world.

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Author Biographies

Jason Kalin, DePaul University

Jason Kalin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse at DePaul University. His research interests include rhetorical theory, visual and material rhetorics, memory studies, and new media studies. 

David R. Gruber, Massey University

David Gruber is a Senior Lecturer in the School of English & Media Studies at Massey University. His works spans rhetoric of the body, neurorhetorics, technical communication, and writing studies.