Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Misty G. Anderson

Committee Members

Nancy Henry, Anthony Welch, Ernest F. Freeburg


This study examines the rhetorical methods that eighteenth-century biographers use to produce selfhood and to educate readers in behaviors that promote sociability. The interventions of the New Science’s inductive epistemology in rhetoric and conceptualizations of selfhood, as well as the rise of print culture, offer a foundation for exploring the emergence of the modern biographical form in the eighteenth century. In its development, eighteenth-century biography utilizes various rhetorical techniques to create a rhetoric of self, which arranges documented, lived experience into a print selfhood that readers can observe empirically and sympathetically, an engagement with the print person through which they teach themselves right social practice. Fundamentally, the effect of these rhetorical techniques is a selfhood that can act as a substitute for a person, which readers can observe empirically and sympathetically. In its emergence, the biographical rhetoric of self teaches readers to apply a new ethics of reading in order to improve themselves and to engage the larger community of readers.

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