Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

John M. Ackerman

Second Advisor

Bryan C. Taylor

Third Advisor

Lisa A. Flores

Abstract

This dissertation historicizes the way posthumanist values have been infused in theories of rhetoric from classical antiquity through our contemporary moment. There are many versions of posthumanism utilized by rhetorical scholars; however, these conversations have not yet been gathered for metacritical reflection. This project begins this process. I put contemporary rhetorical scholars interested in psychoanalysis, technology, the built world, the body, and animals in conversation with one another in ways that demonstrate a common thread in their writings. Terms such as transference, energy, relationality, affect, aesthetics, and physical materiality assist in the constitution of rhetoric as an intra-activity that continuously shapes our becomings in time and space through its many manifestations. I argue that what we call posthumanism emerged simultaneously with, if not prior to, humanism. I show that by solely attending to how rhetoric moves through discourse, scholars privilege a humanist inspired individualistic, masculine, and human-centered orientation to knowledge production. I argue for the reconceptualization of key rhetorical terms in place of those that privilege language as separate from materiality: rhetorical milieus instead of rhetorical texts, evolving rhetorical selves instead of rhetorical subjectivity, and rhetorical invention through chora rather than topos. I then demonstrate this approach through a critical essay that critiques the spread of androcentric and anthropocentric transhumanist rhetorics.

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