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Rhetorics of Complete Disorder in Post-Ferguson America

Athanasopoulos, Charles (2022) Rhetorics of Complete Disorder in Post-Ferguson America. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Rhetorics of Complete Disorder in Post-Ferguson America examines how Blackness is figured within, and simultaneously destabilizes, the racial iconography of Western Man (e.g., race, gender, class, sexuality). The dissertation deploys the terms “racial iconography” and “racial icons” as a vocabulary for describing public symbols that instruct subjects how to fit within the social codes of Western Man. This project develops an orientation to the anti-Black world called Black iconoclasm which identifies how racial icons constrict Black radical imagination into a limited box of options that are offered as the only and natural way of thinking. Rhetorics of Complete Disorder in Post-Ferguson America develops this orientation to the anti-Black world inter(con)textually across theory (chapter two), visual rhetoric (chapter three), film/popular culture (chapter four), and communicative situations (chapter five). Engaging Frantz Fanon’s theory that decolonization is a “program of complete disorder,” chapter two examines theories of Black radical disruption and Black liberation emerging within communication studies and the Black radical tradition. Chapter three navigates new pathways through  douard Glissant’s theory of “poetics of relation” by using it to negotiate the rhetorical contours of a Black Lives Matter mural in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Chapter four develops a tool of critique called iconoclastic readings by considering the detailed process of icon-making in Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) as a response to the inter(con)texts of Black Lives Matter. Chapter five combines an examination of Fanonian thought alongside communicative practices related to Black Lives Matter protests and attempts to smooth over racial tensions. This chapter theorizes the Fanonian slip, which broadly refers to rhetorical gestures formed in moments of racialized tension that accidentally reveal something larger about the anti-Black metonymic associations guiding one’s approach. The coda of the dissertation (chapter six) directly examines BLM’s evolution into the Black Lives Matter Global Network, and grapples with how Black iconoclasm gestures at invention in its breaking apart of what ossifies as icon.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Athanasopoulos, Charlescaa82@pitt.educaa82
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMalin, Brent
Committee MemberJohnson, Paul
Committee MemberBruce, Caitlin
Committee MemberMaraj, Louis
Committee MemberReid-Brinkley,
Date: 6 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 April 2022
Approval Date: 6 June 2022
Submission Date: 7 March 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 225
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: rhetoric; Fanon; icons; Black lives matter
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 15:58
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2024 13:03

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