Master of Arts (MA)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
In 1989, Raymie McKerrow’s essay “Critical Rhetoric: Theory and Praxis” served as a culmination for a new mode of rhetorical analysis that would reshape the field in the decades following. His essay combined the works of Michel Foucault and other rhetoric scholars such as Michael McGee, Maurice Charland, and Philip Wander to create the method of discourse critique called “critical rhetoric.” Essential to this practice are McKerrow’s equally important and interrelated “critique of domination,” “critique of freedom,” and “permanent criticism.” These components respectively help critics identify where social change should occur within discourses of power, motivate realignments of power for the better, and avoid absolutist determinations of truth. However, the tendency in critical rhetoric’s legacy has been on the critique of domination while the utility of the critique of freedom has been unexplored, thereby limiting the utility and purpose of critical rhetoric. In this thesis, I draw on Rita Felski’s argument that emphasizing the hermeneutics of suspicion is limiting for critique to similarly argue that emphasizing the critique of domination is limiting for critical rhetoric. Felski offers “postcritical reading” as an alternative mode of critique that incorporates affective engagement and aesthetic dimensions. Building from Felski’s and McKerrow’s work, I offer a mode of critique called a “postcritical orientation” motivated by my notion of “permanent conversation,” to explore alternative possibilities for critical rhetoric to enhance human social relations through and beyond critique. My postcritical orientation centers around Foucault’s self-care for others while the permanent conversation engages with the “others of discourse” based on Emmanuel Levinas’ moral philosophies and the stoic egalitarian notion of sermo. To illustrate how my contribution would effect social change by enhancing human social relations, I discuss the works of Tony Adams and Deeyah Khan as respective scholarly and documentary film exemplars of this mode of critical engagement.
Critical Rhetoric; Postcritical Orientation; Relationality; Suspicious Reading
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Bezotte, James, "The Limits of Critical Rhetoric: Towards a Postcritical Orientation" (2022). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 4366.
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