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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.

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    Abstract

    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.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMcGuire, James Ejemcg@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.edu
    Title: Made Up Minds: Rhetorical Invention and the Thinking Self in Public Culture
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: 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.
    Date: 30 January 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 25 October 2010
    Approval Date: 30 January 2011
    Submission Date: 08 December 2010
    Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    URN: etd-12082010-235519
    Uncontrolled Keywords: rhetorical theory; philosophy of mind; cultural studies of science; rhetoric of science; public address; public understanding of science; critical rhetoric; rhetorical invention
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 15:09
    Last Modified: 22 May 2012 13:24
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-12082010-235519/, etd-12082010-235519

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