Recent Submissions

  • Suppress the monster, silence the bitch : containing the rhetorical feminine

    Epley, Jacquelynn Nicole
    The suppression of women's voices in the rhetorical sphere continues to present issues for women who attempt to excel in traditionally male-dominated fields of study. Historically, women who attempted to claim a place on the rhetorical platform were silenced and denied, as they defied patriarchal and socially constructed binaries that relegated women to the background. While modem women have gained rhetorical agency in many respects, others are still contained into their "proper" roles of the submissive and docile by those in power. To gain access to this platform, women must, as Sally Gearhart suggests, "scale themselves" to the preferred masculinized discourse to be heard. But the consequences for adopting masculinized discourse perpetuates containment for women who step outside the binary constructs. Using Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar's literary theory involving the angel vs. monster dichotomy and anxiety of authorship, I demonstrate in this thesis how women attempt to overcome suppression through perseverance and destruction of social binaries in the rhetorical sphere. I investigate issues which lie within social media discourse, discourse in major media outlets, and discourse used in academia. Furthermore, I created my own primary research into the usage of the word "bitch" as a containment term and as a linguistic equivalent to Gilbert and Gubar's "monster." I demonstrate with this research the ways in which labels used toward women in literature reflect labels used in the rhetorical sphere. This thesis also investigates a small group of nationally recognized universities and attempts to call attention to patriarchal standards which reflect outdated rhetorical pedagogy methods. Finally, I suggest ways in which women can reclaim their own ideas of womanhood that break the dichotomies and allow women's voices to flourish in a sea of masculinized rhetoric.
  • Defense of mental illness in young adult dystopias

    Hobson, Melissa Anne
    Recent years have produced a trend in the YA literature genre which addresses the issue of mental illness and its stigmatization. Writers of dystopian novels have recognized the social problem of mental illness and have produced a new genre in order to combat this stigma - Young Adult Mental Illness Dystopia (YAMID). These YAMID novels criticize the treatment and mentality towards individuals who suffer from mental illness. Books like The Rest of Us Just Live Here (Ness) introduce diagnosed mental illness on a personal level, permitting readers to understand mental illness and empathize with those who experience it. However, novels such as Mindwalker (Steiger), The Program (Young). The Glimpse (Merle). and BZRK (Grant) show the implications of stigmatization on a social level. In these novels, individuals with mental illness are oppressed by the government, resulting in society-wide perspectives that resemble the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer in postcolonial literature. This comparison provides an increased understanding of the treatment of people with mental illness, as the colonizer entity subjects them through the imperial gaze and Orientalism, attempts to assimilate them into a mimicry of the dominant culture, and uses surveillance to transform them into the ultimate docile body. This thesis will discuss the aforementioned novels in view of the colonizer/colonized relationship, providing a unique understanding of the stigmatization of mental illness, treatment, and medication in modem society.
  • Negotiating the rhetoric of the American dream : immigrant literature and its role in the contemporary literary and political landscape

    Revelle, Michael Ross
    This thesis demonstrates how immigrant literature challenges the defining discourse maintained by the American Dream and power structures in U.S. society. It is a discourse that perpetuates myths and negative stereotypes about U.S. immigrants: specifically, that immigrants are detrimental to the U.S. economy, refuse to assimilate, and increase crime rates in this country. Additionally, it directly addresses the discourse of the American Dream which deceptively appears inclusive to every race and culture, calling out to immigrants everywhere offering hope to those who have none?? however, upon arrival to the U.S., it often becomes a doctrine of false hope with disillusioning effects. By examining its origins and the history of its representation, we can better understand how the American Dream partners with American Exceptionalism to maintain these myths. Immigrant literature uses writing and language as political and intellectual tools that question the discourse of the American Dream and explore immigrant perspectives thus giving voice to those who are traditionally marginalized in society. By contrasting the voice of the immigrant against the discourse of the Dream, we gain a better understanding of the commonalities within the immigrant experience and how they speak to the Dream. Immigrant literature mirrors a new demographic truth in the United States as research shows that minority populations will place current hegemonic powers in the minority by 2045. The novels examined in this study construct diverse narratives, through humor, social commentary, and reflective understanding that speaks accurately and directly to the complex relationships immigrants have with the U.S. They offer unique insight into the complicated realities of immigration and its relationship to the American Dream. Additionally, the characters represented in these texts shed light on the reductive stereotyping currently maintained in the discourse of the Dream, political rhetoric, and mainstream and social media.
  • Dreaming the American dream on both sides of the Atlantic : an American WWII journal and letters from France

    Atherton, Christi Ann
    This thesis explores the ideology of the American dream and the alternately complementary or competing ideology of American exceptionalism at a specific point in time. During World War II, American Kenneth McCutchan moved with the American army from Africa, Corsica, northward through France, and eventually into a conquered Germany. He met many families and individuals along the way, but he achieved a lasting impact on three in particular. Letters, written in French, from his French correspondents into the 1980s provide evidence of his friendship and his willingness to share the abundance of his country. McCutchan's own wartime journals reveal much of the same and also a disturbing but honest viewpoint of an America that he believed to be more advanced, better than other countries, more capable of leading the world-in a word, exceptional. Using the letters, journals, impressions of French novelist and essayist Simone de Beauvoir (who also lived through the war in France), and the French, American, and English literature exchanged by McCutchan and one of his correspondents, I build a picture of an American who sometimes thought himself above the rest of the world, albeit with the best of intentions. Yet McCutchan was always willing to partake in new cultures and meet new people, activities that tempered his ingrained American exceptionalism and encouraged him to share the bounty from his own American dream. These two facets of his personality are more on display than ever in our modern American society but often in such a way that they are at war with each other. Lessons from McCutchan and his French correspondents are just as relevant today as they were seventy-five years ago.
  • Writing to learn for scientific literacy : a rhetoric and composition studies-based curriculum for introductory historical geology

    Wright, Carrie L.
    Scientific literacy is a primary goal of undergraduate introductory science education, and yet measures of this crucial pedagogical outcome among U.S. citizens indicate it is mediocre at best. Scientifically literate citizens sufficiently understand the concepts and the nature of science (NOS) -and can communicate that knowledge in writing -to actively participate in a global society grappling with issues such as climate change. However, many university students, both science majors and non-majors, lack understanding of the NOS and how to communicate science, leading to misconceptions that create barriers to scientific literacy. As an educational strategy to improve scientific literacy, Writing to Learn (WTL) is effective because it aligns with attributes of successful learning such as reinforcement, it encourages students to emulate the languaging processes of building scientific knowledge, and it also provides students with opportunities for the critical thinking, synthesis, and analysis needed for effectively engaging with and communicating science. To improve students' scientific communication skills and scientific literacy in the NOS, I developed a I0-step WTL curriculum for a I00-level historical geology course for majors and non-majors (N=22). Curriculum assignments include pre-curriculum writing, critical reading, in-class writing, instruction in argumentation, a research essay, structured peer review, revision plans, group work, and field presentations designed to emulate science epistemology. I evaluated pedagogical effectiveness by comparing the NOS literacy students exhibited in pre-curriculum writing with that exhibited in subsequent work, by analyzing the form and content of students' written arguments, and by surveying students at the end of the course. This thesis presents the results of these evaluative measures, describes each part of the curriculum and its theoretical underpinnings in science education research and composition studies, and discusses implications for future implementation and research. Results indicate that engaging students in the study of science through language arts-critical reading of and writing about scientific texts and the NOS-enhances the majority of students' scientific literacy. The epigenetic nature of writing as a process-its ability to shed light on a writer's evolution of thought-allows both the student and teacher to see improvements in understanding the NOS, and the ability to communicate that understanding.
  • Progress or regression : depictions of disability and disease in literature

    Bunner, Alexander Mitchell
    Portrayals of disability and disease in literature date back to the beginning of recorded history, and these portrayals constantly shift based on the culture that writes them. However, depictions of cognitive disabilities lag behind physical disabilities due lo communication being difficult or impossible. Many books that include characters with cognitive disabilities resort to using them less like a character and more like an object that serves the narrative. The characters Bertha Mason in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Benjy Compson in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and Christopher "Stump" Hall in Wiley Cash"s A land More Kind than Home offer a cross section of characters with cognitive disabilities that span eras of great importance to disability studies. The three characters are nonverbal; yet, they perform different functions within their stories. Disability theory allows for readers to better understand these characters and how their disability or disease reflects on the writer and culture that produced them. With a proper understanding of the culture that produced characters, one can see how he or she relates to modern thought on disability studies. Theorists' goal is to have more well-rounded characters who happen to have a disability, and to push for more writers with disabilities to share their stories. Alas, such a task is impossible for many cases of cognitive disability. It is difficult to portray a character that cannot communicate their thoughts or feelings in a way readers can understand. Most portrayals of characters like these leave aspects of their characters lacking, but when a writer attempts to write such a voice the depiction of the character helps to normalize the disability as a part of human existence. For a character with a cognitive disability to be well-rounded, the character needs to participate in the narrative beyond being an object.