Strong rhetoric: Acting in the interplay of language, power, belief
KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
Language, Rhetoric and Composition.
Education, Curriculum and Instruction.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe dissertation confronts these dual questions: What theory of rhetoric would serve a multicultural democracy? How might such a theory be taught in a first-year composition program? I argue that democratic negotiations are rhetorical, as groups vie to control definitions of themselves, each other, and the "proper" relationships among people, and that rhetoric shapes what people consider to be "knowledge" and "truth." Because hidden ideologies influence the rhetoric people find convincing, people need methods for reflecting critically on their own locations. I argue that one method of developing this reflection is to seek to understand the positions of oppressed peoples, as those positions may reveal assumptions embedded in dominant rhetorical patterns. I also argue that a rhetoric for democracy must be committed to action, not just self-reflection and analysis. I call my theory "strong rhetoric." In the remainder of the dissertation I consider how to apply strong rhetoric in pedagogical contexts, and I perform the kind of self-reflection that strong rhetoric demands by noting how my own contexts have influenced my theory. In chapter two I contemplate the role of a teacher in a democratic classroom and offer "liberation morality"--the critique of inequitable distributions of power--as a strategy to convince students of the value of strong rhetoric. In chapter three I critique four curricula designed to teach civic rhetoric, and I argue that teachers must present ideology as more than partisan politics, advocate action as the goal of rhetoric, discuss the limits of democracy defined as a public forum, and treat students as knowledge-makers and citizens. In chapter four, I discuss my involvement in the the University of Arizona's curriculum revision and make explicit that research and revision are integral to strong rhetoric. I also argue that a pedagogy for strong rhetoric must confront the tensions of establishing the classroom as "community." In chapter five I show how teaching assistants at the University of Arizona translated complex rhetorical concepts into essay assignments. Recognizing that teachers need to simplify strong rhetoric to present it in a one-semester course, I model the analysis teachers might use to determine which elements of strong rhetoric to teach.
Degree ProgramGraduate College