Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lynée Gaillet

Second Advisor

Michael Harker

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Lopez


In the history of rhetoric and composition, the subject of romantic rhetoric has been valued and discussed for its contributions to theory. At the same time that it has been positively viewed, romanticism has been characterized as antirhetorical and representative of the beginning of the devaluation of rhetoric. In this dissertation, I trace the narrative of research about romantic rhetoric. I highlight the myths and traps that lead to the implication that romantic rhetoric is unrecognized as an organizing tradition within our field. In discussing myths such as the idea that romanticism, as an era, is radically opposed to the enlightenment and traps like romanticism is antirhetorical, I set a schema for understanding the valuing of under-represented categories within rhetoric’s history. I also show, through analysis of secondary sources, the value and exigency of romantic rhetoric for today’s students. Recollection of research about romantic rhetoric, as a sub-field, emphasizes the hopeful possibilities that emerge when a definition of rhetoric is complicated.

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