Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Radicis: Ideology, argument, and composition courses in American colleges
by Braud, Donovan S., Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago, 2010, 175; 3419907
Abstract (Summary)

The development of “composition” out of larger rhetorical studies in American colleges and universities has narrowed the scope of rhetorical training our students receive, most notably excluding the political and social dimensions of persuasion. This dissertation is an attempt to recover the larger political and civic scope that was the original focus of rhetoric. I join a growing chorus of voices seeking to bring classroom practice to bear on the larger social and civic lives of our students. My approach is original in that it blends classical rhetoric with contemporary ideological theory to derive a pedagogy that will allow students to see the importance of rhetoric and persuasion in their lives and provide them with a techne, a set of skills that can be used to analyze and generate discourse for a variety of audiences, including academic ones.

I begin by showing that current-traditional composition methodologies and theories do not allow for students to productively generate social and civic discourse, a significant change in rhetorical study. Because of the lack of civic and ideological focus, students tend to parrot the arguments they are exposed to without truly examining their underlying principles. The origin of this “formalist” approach lies in the peculiar response to an expanding student population and a new model of the university that began to take shape in the United States in the nineteenth century. Increasingly under-trained students were faced with a curriculum that demanded an ever-increasing specialization of its scholars. As a result, remedial efforts at training newer students to write “academic” prose became standard practice.

As an alternative, I propose a composition course based on classical rhetorical principles. Concepts such as ethos, pathos, and logos; decorum; enthymemic reasoning; and audience analysis are central to argumentation in both the contemporary era and in the classical age. However, contemporary understandings of ideology as the underlying motivation for most human belief and behavior must be taken into consideration. By incorporating contemporary ideological theory into classical rhetorical theory, this project will provide a pedagogical model that will allow students to participate more fully in the civic arena, and give them a set of skills that can be used in academic settings, thus remaining true to the larger civic nature of rhetoric, while fulfilling institutional goals for composition classes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Biester, James
Commitee: Janagelo, Joseph, Kendrick, Christopher
School: Loyola University Chicago
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Rhetoric
Keywords: Classical rhetoric, Composition, Ideology, Rhetoric
Publication Number: 3419907
ISBN: 978-1-124-20293-8
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