Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Language of Power and Pathos: Analyzing Rhetoric of Discourse Battles in Works of Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee
by Darby, Madeline, M.A., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2020, 76; 27837560
Abstract (Summary)

By the mid-twentieth century, Southern American authors such as Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and Harper Lee were creating works of fiction that shared common elements with Gothic fiction of the eighteenth century such as gloomy settings, deteriorating castles, and lurking dangers. These and other Southern American authors’ stories contained these elements combined with odd, grotesque characters and a guilty and impoverished South. This genre became known as Southern Gothic literature. A unique mode of writing, Southern Gothic is continuously studied and critiqued for common settings, themes, and characters. Since the rise in popularity of the aforementioned authors and others like them, scholars have studied the dialects and colorful language they have used. However, there remains a need for further research into the rich form of writing within the genre which will focus on their rhetorical strategies. This study seeks to identify, dissect, and analyze the discourse of authors Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee and to understand the rhetorical devices, and language models practiced by such writers. Furthermore, the intent of this paper is to conclude authors’ purposes in the meticulous development of such models. In this thesis, I argue that these authors use a clear paradigm of discourse and linguistic functions of Southern American dialects in the discourse Southern Gothic stories as intentional rhetorical devices to shape characters types and form them as powerful and powerless. Some scholarship applied in this thesis includes Kenneth Burke’s vital theories on various forms of rhetoric, Cheryl Burke’s research and commentary on the art of silence, and Cynthia Goldin Bernstein’s contribution on styles of dialogue, including gendered speech characteristics. The intensive findings regarding language models in this thesis will revive interest in this genre and create a plenitude of topics for scholars interested in characterization, rhetoric and sociolinguistics.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McDonald, James
Commitee: Ratliff, Clancy, Rice, Claiborne, Ingram, Shelley
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: MAI 82/3(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Rhetoric, American literature
Keywords: American literature, Discourse, Language, Rhetoric, Sociolinguistics, Southern gothic
Publication Number: 27837560
ISBN: 9798672183121
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