Network Sense: Methods for Visualizing a Discipline

  • writing studies, rhetoric and composition, distant reading, research methods

By Derek N. Mueller
Copy edited by Lydia Welker, Sarah Truax, and Kasey Osborne. Designed by Mike Palmquist.

This book is the winner of the 2019 Research Impact Award by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. The award is presented annually to "the empirical research publication in the previous two years that most advances the mission of the organization or the needs of the profession." It is also the winner of the 2018 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award, which was awarded at the 2019 Computers and Writing Conference.

CoverIn this book, the first published in the #writing series, Derek N. Mueller offers a methodological response to recent efforts by scholars in rhetoric and composition/writing studies to account for patterns indicative of the discipline's maturation. Influenced by work on distant reading (Moretti, 2005) and thin description (Love, 2010 & 2013), this monograph attends to forms of knowledge newly available via computationally mined, aggregated data from large collections of texts, which is then used to build experimental models for discerning non-obvious relationships. By shedding light on large-scale patterns, the models promote what Mueller refers to as a network sense of the field, which regards these as crucial structures of participation for orienting newcomers to the shifting terrain of disciplinary knowledge and for sustaining a generalist's wherewithal in the midst of a growing archive of increasingly specialized scholarship.

Table of Contents

Open the Entire Book:   In PDF Format PDF Format    In ePub Format ePub Format

Front Matter


Introduction. The Distant and Thin of Disciplinarity

Chapter 1. Methods for Visualizing Disciplinary Patterns

Chapter 2. Patterned Images of a Discipline: Database, Scale, Pattern

Chapter 3. Turn Spotting: The Discipline as a Confluence of Words

Chapter 4. The Thin, Long Tail of Citation Frequency

Chapter 5. Emplaced Disciplinary Networks: Toward an Atlas of Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies

Chapter 6. Network Sense: Patterned Connections Across a Maturing Discipline



About the Author

Derek N. Mueller is Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing and Director of Composition at Virginia Tech. A graduate of Syracuse University's Composition and Cultural Rhetoric (CCR) program, Mueller teaches courses in visual rhetoric and information design, rhetorics of science and technology, and computers and writing. His research interests include digital writing platforms, networked writing practices, theories of composing, rhetorical aspects of computational methods, archiving and databases, and discipliniographies related to rhetoric and composition/writing studies. Mueller's work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Kairos, Computers and Composition, Composition Forum, and JAC. For more information, visit

Publication Information: Mueller, Derek N. (2017). Network Sense: Methods for Visualizing a Discipline. The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.

Online Publication Date: November 19, 2017
Print Publication Date: December 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64215-012-4 (PDF) | 978-1-64215-013-1 (ePub) | 978-1-60732-862-9 (pbk.)
DOI: 10.37514/WRI-B.2017.0124

Contact Information:
Derek N. Mueller:


Series Editor: Cheryl E. Ball, Wayne State University

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). It is also available in a low-cost print edition from our publishing partner, the University Press of Colorado.

Copyright © 2017 Derek N. Mueller. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License. 204 pages, with notes, illustrations, index, and bibliographies. This book is available in print from University Press of Colorado as well as from any online or brick-and-mortar bookstore. Available in digital format for no charge on this page at the WAC Clearinghouse. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website.