Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Made Up Minds: Rhetorical Invention and the Thinking Self in Public Culture

Gibbons, Michelle Geraldine (2011) Made Up Minds: Rhetorical Invention and the Thinking Self in Public Culture. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


As an abstraction that identifies the inner thinking self, the mind is a powerful resource for rhetorical invention, enabling both the generation of discourse and epistemic sense-making. This dissertation provides insight into the discursive life of "the mind," examining how different instantiations of the concept were put to rhetorical use in three specific historical cases. In each case study, I examine a conception of the mind that originated in the realm of institutional science and that made its way into public culture, often circuitously, and frequently transformed in the process. The first case study analyzes a nineteenth-century phrenology handbook, which reveals how the phrenological mind enabled pre-existing cultural beliefs to be resourced, or respoken as if the objective results of science. The second case study examines Benjamin Spock's use of Freudian ideas to generate child-rearing advice in his classic Baby and Child Care manual. My analysis of Spock's Freudianism leads me to propose that beliefs about the mind constitute a uniquely generative class of doxa that I label "psychodoxa." The final case study focuses on the contemporary cerebral self, which asserts the isomorphism of mind, brain, and self. This conception of mind generated considerable interest in Terri Schiavo's brain in the end-of-life case that dominated news media in the early 2000s, and I suggest that much of the discourse concerning Schiavo's brain relied on recalcitrance to channel invention. The dissertation concludes by considering the mind's utility as an inventional resource for rhetoric itself.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gibbons, Michelle
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberMcGuire, James Ejemcg@pitt.eduJEMCG
Committee MemberOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.eduOLSON
Committee MemberZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Date: 30 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 25 October 2010
Approval Date: 30 January 2011
Submission Date: 8 December 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: rhetorical theory; philosophy of mind; cultural studies of science; rhetoric of science; public address; public understanding of science; critical rhetoric; rhetorical invention
Other ID:, etd-12082010-235519
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item