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Toward a Rhetoric of Syntactic Delivery

Moe, Peter (2015) Toward a Rhetoric of Syntactic Delivery. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In this dissertation, I claim the sentence is a form of rhetorical delivery. Building on scholarship expanding delivery beyond voice and gesture––redefining it as (among other terms) medium, circulation, presentation, distribution, and rhetorical velocity––I work toward a rhetoric of syntactic delivery, one that depends upon Performance, Display, and Location. With a chapter devoted to each, these three terms allow me to interrogate the work of the sentence, to think through the performativity of prose, to claim that the sentence moves on the page and that those moves constitute a rhetorical delivery that brings discourse to its readers.

This project intervenes in two bodies of scholarship. To work in stylistics calling Composition back to the sentence, I offer a sentence re-theorized in light of its rhetorical delivery, a sentence necessarily bound up in the social, the political, and the rhetorical by way of how its grammar holds ideas in relation one to another. To current scholarship in delivery, I offer the sentence as a mediated and embodied technology delivering discourse. This is a performative sentence, one that asks teachers and students to read and write the sentence differently, looking not to error or argumentation as benchmarks of good writing but instead toward the performative drama unfolding as the sentence moves across the page. But, given that the sentence is the foundation of both a writer’s work and a writer’s education, this dissertation reaches beyond Composition to anywhere the teaching of writing takes place, the methods of engaging the sentence I demonstrate here applicable in a variety of rhetorical and pedagogical settings.

A note on method: I rely solely on student writing for my corpus of sentences. I do so because most books on the sentence look to the prose of famous writers (Presidents, Martin Luther King, Jr., Didion, Wolfe, Updike, and the like), and student sentences, if they do appear at all, serve as examples of error. The argument is subtle but clear: students cannot write good sentences. I disagree, and this project teaches other ways we might read student work.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBartholomae, Davidbarth@pitt.eduBARTH
Committee MemberKameen, Paulpkameen@pitt.eduPKAMEEN
Committee MemberBialostosky, Dondhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberHolding, Corycholding@pitt.eduCHOLDING
Committee MemberHorner,
Date: 27 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 June 2015
Approval Date: 27 September 2015
Submission Date: 7 July 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 264
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: composition, pedagogy, rhetoric, sentences, style, delivery
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2015 22:44
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2020 05:15


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