Date of Award

5-2015

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English: Rhetoric and Writing: M.A.

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Sharon Cogdill

Second Advisor

Dan Wildeson

Third Advisor

James Heiman

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

As our postmodern subject position becomes increasingly apparent it is vital to examine the potential of polyvocal rhetorics, and to strive for an understanding of the possibilities and limitations of collective agency. This paper analyzes the rhetoric of a growing subculture that aims to codify, for the first time in modern American history, the rights of natural communities (such as rivers, marshes, and ecosystems) to exist and thrive. This subculture, whom I refer to as rights-of-nature advocates (RoNA), is important for scholars to consider because it employs a rhetorical style which has shown to be effective in shifting discourse away from the dominant ideology of late capitalism and influencing political decision-making processes. RoNA are a growing subculture in part because of the “fracking” boom in the United States, and analyses are framed within the context of the ongoing (and growing) debate over the practice of extracting natural gas from the earth via hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” RoNA show us that by unifying with other individual subjects to form collectives, by filling public spaces and pressuring politicians, and by speaking in a wide range of voices that span across the political spectrum, fragmented subjects are able to make coherent, effective rhetorical decisions.

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