Date of Award

8-12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Lynee Gaillet

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Harker

Third Advisor

Dr. George Pullman

Abstract

This dissertation argues that a diversity of epistemology within the field of rhetoric and composition can encourage Imagining as a strategy to negotiate the conundrums and binaries of the post-everything era, especially in negotiating the social presence of online learning. I trace Imagination from Enlightenment Pedagogy, which privileged the individual, unteacheable genius, to the conflation of invention and Imagination and the disappearance of both in current-traditional, modern, and postmodern pedagogy. Underlying this disappearance seems to be a distrust of Imagination, as exemplified by Kenneth Burke. I suggest that strategy of Imagining, rather than the faculty of Imagination, is needed—a move that is congruent with the active agency suggested by Marilyn Cooper. I also suggest that the theoretical basis for Imagining as a bridge can be found in the “Thirdness” of Charles Sanders Pierce. Following Coleridge, I suggest that four means of knowing serve as foundations for Imagining: the group, the text, knowledgeable others, and the spirit. These four means can give the field of rhetoric and composition a diversity of epistemologies, and these terms provide the means to more fully describe our complex, partial, and recursive ways of knowing in the twenty-first century. These ways of knowing are especially necessary in online learning where teachers and students may only “see” each other through their words. I argue that these means of knowing enhance Imagining and that a unsyllabus is a way to implement Imagining.

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