Welcome to iSocrates!
I'm Jason Helms, Associate Professor of Rhetoric in the English Department at Texas Christian University. I teach courses on the history of rhetoric, multimedia authoring, visual rhetoric, gaming, comics, rhetoric and philosophy, and writing writ large. Just like my teaching, my research covers some broad ground, but my focus is on the interplay of rhetoric and technology. That focus sheds light on what might seem like disparate interests.
iSocrates is my digital face (though the cartoon above is not meant to depict me). My analog face is down below in the contact section. This site is a loving collaboration between my digital and analog selves. We’ve divided the site into five sections: About, Research, Teaching, CV, and Links. You can access them on the menu above. The About page looks a lot like this one. Research contains published work along with works in progress and even projects that will probably never be published. Under Courses you’ll find information about my teaching, including syllabi, student work, and assignments for courses I have taught, am teaching, and will teach. CV is an abbreviation for Curriculum Vitae. That’s Latin for “Life’s Curriculum” and Academic for Résumé. Résumé is French for list of stuff you’ve done. Shockingly, that whole page is in English. Finally, there is a page full of links to other websites. These sites were painstakingly chosen from the best the interwebs have to offer. If you don’t see a site there, it’s because it’s probably not very good.
iSocrates is a pun that operates on at least three levels. Isocrates was an ancient Greek rhetorician who lived at the same time as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. He lived a long time. He taught rhetoric for money, an occupation the philosopher Socrates found despicable. Socrates declared war (intellectual war anyway) against these people, known as sophists. It’s more complex than that because Isocrates didn’t actually identify himself as a sophist and instead wrote a treatise against the sophists. Actually, it gets even more complex than that because more than likely both Socrates and Isocrates would have been considered sophists by their contemporaries. Sophist wasn’t such a bad word back then: it just mean wise-guy. Fast-forward 2400 years and you’re in a world of iMacs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. That lower-case i has become metonymically associated with Apple Inc. and their design philosophy of simplicity and usability. Their methodology is a sophisticated, complex way of achieving the illusion of simplicity. That’s actually a nice way to understand how rhetoric works too. So that’s the three-fold pun: Isocrates + Socrates + iPhone = iSocrates, a place where I investigate rhetoric, philosophy, and technology. Thanks for stopping by. Stay a while, and drop me a line.
Rhizcomics: Rhetoric, Technology, and New Media Composition
Open Access digital monograph from the University of Michigan Press and Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative, February 24, 2017.
A lecture given at the Digital Frontiers Conference on how I made Rhizcomics.
“Potential Panels: Toward a Theory of Augmented Comics.” All the World’s a Link: Perspectives on Augmented Reality across Art, Industry, and Academia. Editors: Sean Morey and John Tinnell. Parlor Press, January 2017.
“What If the Who Became the What: Bernard Stiegler Listens to Tommy”
Part of a collection of multimodal scholarship on composition and pinball published in Itineration, February 2016.
“Is This Article a Comic?”
Part of a special issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly on Comics as Scholarship. Vol. 9, No. 4, Fall 2015.
Interactive scholarship. Part of “MOMLA: from Panel to Gallery” published in Kairos, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2013.
A ‘Disputatio’ about comics and sophistry. Published in Kairos, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring 2009. Online:
An analysis of the conversion of Frank Miller's 300 from page to screen. Published in PRE/TEXT, Vol. 19, Nos. 1-4.
“The Task of the Name: A Reply to Carol Poster”
A conversation about Heraclitus and hermeneutics published in Philosophy and Rhetoric, 41.3.
“Readings and Rereadings” (Review of House of Leaves)
A variety of playable games (coming soon)
ENGL 80703: Digital Rhetorics
Web CV (under construction)
Jason Helms, PhD
Assistant Professor of Rhetoric
Texas Christian University
317c Reed Hall
2800 South University Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76109
I co-run a podcast on LucasArts video games. If you're interested in video games and nostalgia, check out Men of Low Moral Fiber.