Abstract

Environmental rhetoric has the capacity to render private citizens a concerned public. In doing so, it can prompt in individual practices of what, in classical rhetoric, was described as civic virtue and engage them in activities of responsible citizenship that work toward practical change. Within the recent tradition of environmental public discourse in the United States, Rachel Carson and Al Gore have each realized this capacity in their use of environmental rhetoric, by addressing, respectively, the issues of pesticide pollution and global warming in ways that galvanized citizens as an active public. This thesis examines the reasons behind this effectiveness. It asserts that both Carson and Gore employed a modernized epideictic as a rhetorical tool through which on the one hand, enabled them to invoke the shared values and associated emotions that have the capacity to bind citizens together in common cause, and on the other hand, to convey their own ethical character as civic speakers worthy of trust and emulation. My project in this thesis is to comprehensively track the process of arousing those political emotions and character in the writings of Rachel Carson and Al Gore, both of whom entered the public discourse in moments of environmental crises.

Degree

MA

College and Department

Humanities; English

Rights

http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2009-03-13

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd2823

Keywords

rhetoric, environmental, public, epideictic, emotions, values, Rachel Carson, Al Gore, citizenship, civic, virtue

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