Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

English

Major Professor

Lisa M. King

Committee Members

Michael L. Keene, Martin Griffin, Jon D. Shefner

Abstract

Nationality is a powerful modern concept. It allows people legal and political rights, but nationality is also rooted in our language. Nationality is essential to designate populations together as an entity. But in America, where individualism is essential, nationality can be expressed in various ways. Historically, there is little research done on the construction of nationality from a rhetorical lens. This project aims to investigate that very issue. Moreover, the sampled population was Muslim women in the American Southeast to rarify and observe a marginalized group. The primary research question of this project is, “How do Muslim women articulate their sense of nationality?” To this effect, five case studies are presented to begin formulating a sense of the rhetoric of nationality. Using Wayne Booth’s theoretical framework of the rhetoric of assent and M. Lane Bruner’s initial description of the rhetoric of nationality, this project highlights subjective representations of nationality. A multi-modal data set was collected from each participant: a questionnaire, photographs, and an hour-long interview. A rhetorical analysis crystallized various themes across each participant to synthesize a view on the rhetoric of nationality. Many of the participants used a Boothian rhetorical style to argue their sense of nationality. Booth describes that modern rhetorical practices situate ethos (author credibility) and pathos (emotional connection) as essential appeals in arguments. Logos (logic) is a secondary characteristic. In the case of expressing nationality, ethos was a matter of creating identifying terms, such as “German” or “Southern”; pathos was a matter of the rhetor feeling an emotional conviction; logos was the narrative explained to an outsider, such as the researcher. Most participants privileged the former two appeals to define their sense of nationality. In some cases, however, nationality was buried within other identities that were more significant to the participant. Nationality is powerful because of its subjective measure in people’s lives. More research is needed to detail the rhetorical structure of nationality to consider its representative characteristic across the large populations who use its identification as essential.

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