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Title:Rhetorical dimensions of 20th century depression memoirs: Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, William Styron's Darkness Visible, & Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind
Author(s):Martinez, Jermaine
Director of Research:O'Gorman, Ned
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):O'Gorman, Ned
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Miller, Peggy; Murphy, John; Kral, Michael
Department / Program:Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Rhetorical Theory
Rhetorical Criticism
Mental Illness
Public Argument
Mood Memoirs
20th Century
Abstract:This is a rhetorical analysis of three popular autobiographical acts about depression from the American 20th century: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, William Styron’s Darkness Visible and Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind. This dissertation explores the question: how do these memoirs of depression work as rhetorical texts? Two distinct, yet interrelated, levels of analysis are undertaken through an orientation of "deep reading" in an effort to illuminate the rhetorical dimensions of these enduring and best selling autobiographical works. First, I review the ways these authors generate identification with readers in the face of a suffering that casts its agents as unreliable narrators. Second, I demonstrate how these texts enter into dialogue with technical and public discourses of their time, shifting the grounds of appeal towards more personal considerations. Both of these analyses work to illuminate how these popular books emerge as rhetorically powerful interventions in 20th century discourses on depression, mental illness, and meaningful living more generally.
Issue Date:2016-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Jermaine Martinez
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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