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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Constructing an ethos in the borderlands
by Keller, Marsha L. Waller, Ph.D., The University of Oklahoma, 2008, 144; 3337296
Abstract (Summary)

Since the 1960s, classical rhetoric has been a significant site for theorizing composition pedagogy in the United States, informing scholarly work in the field and generating textbooks and teaching practices for first-year composition classes. Despite the influence of ancient rhetorics, seen especially through the appropriation of Aristotelian argument, little attention has been given in composition studies to theorizing ethos, though the ancients found it a significant element of persuasion and even a purpose of rhetorical education.

This study investigates classical conceptions of ethos as demonstrated through the texts of Isocrates, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, and Quintilian; suggests reasons why contemporary scholars and teachers minimize or exclude ethos; and argues that ethos is a valuable concept to teach in composition classes. Postmodern sensibilities, student subjectivities, and digital communications, however, complicate any theory of ethos today: a reconception must include multiple contexts, multiple sites for ethos performance, and multiple ways of being in those locations.

Border studies and theories provide a useful trope for conceptualizing a new ethos. Reconceiving of ethos as located in borderlands opens up possibilities for helping students think critically about discursive contexts and the power relations inherent in them; provides opportunities for analyzing, evaluating, and creating persuasive electronic and print texts; and, following Henry Giroux, allows enactment of critical pedagogy within the composition class.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mair, David
Commitee: Dillon, Connie, Hobbs, Catherine, Kates, Susan, Sawaya, Francesca
School: The University of Oklahoma
Department: Department of English
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Rhetoric, Curriculum development
Keywords: Borderlands, Composition, Curriculum, Ethos, Rhetoric
Publication Number: 3337296
ISBN: 978-0-549-92031-1
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