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Teaching and Learning "the language of the heart": Rhetorical Education for Romantic Engagement

VanHaitsma, Pamela R (2014) Teaching and Learning "the language of the heart": Rhetorical Education for Romantic Engagement. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation challenges the scholarly consensus that Western rhetorical education prepares citizen subjects exclusively for civic engagement. I enrich rhetorical history by offering another account of rhetorical education—rhetorical education for romantic engagement—which I define as the teaching and learning of language practices for participation in romantic relations. The touchstone for my investigation of this pedagogy is nineteenth-century romantic letter writing, or what The Fashionable American Letter Writer (1832) calls “the language of the heart.” To explore how the language of the heart was taught, learned, and used by diverse everyday people, I situate my archival research at three sites: popular nineteenth-century manuals that taught the romantic letter genre, romantic letters between African-American women Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus (1854-1868), and a diary, commonplace book, and poetry album about romantic epistolary address by Yale student Albert Dodd (1836-1838). I argue that, whereas romantic letters are often presumed to be natural and unstudied expressions of heartfelt love, they were actually rhetorically crafted and learned. While my study of romantic letter writing rethinks the dominant concept of rhetorical education for civic engagement, I nonetheless show how even rhetorical education for romantic engagement is of civic import: it shapes citizens as romantic subjects in predictably heteronormative ways and, simultaneously, opens up possibilities for queer rhetorical practices that transgress cultural norms. Ultimately, my dissertation demonstrates how rhetorical education has played an unrealized yet significant role in inventing both romantic and civic life.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
VanHaitsma, Pamela Rprv5@pitt.eduPRV5
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairEnoch,
Committee CoChairBialostosky, Don Hdhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberCarr, Jean Fergusonjcarr@pitt.eduJCARR
Committee ChairGlazener, Nancyglazener@pitt.eduGLAZENER
Date: 25 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 May 2014
Approval Date: 25 September 2014
Submission Date: 11 April 2014
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 270
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rhetoric, rhetorical education, civic engagement, romantic engagement, letter writing, epistolary, genre, romantic friendship, queer
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2014 16:46
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 18:46

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  • Teaching and Learning "the language of the heart": Rhetorical Education for Romantic Engagement. (deposited 25 Sep 2014 16:46) [Currently Displayed]


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