Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas Rickert

Committee Chair

Thomas Rickert

Committee Member 1

Jennifer Bay

Committee Member 2

Richard Johnson- Sheehan

Committee Member 3

Patricia Sullivan


This dissertation employs philology and cultural analysis to reassess longstanding notions in rhetorical theory and moral philosophy (via classical rhetoric and technical communication). In particular, I use diachronic analyses of the terms telos, symbouleutikon, and sympheron (from Aristotle to present) as a theoretical springboard to reassess more contemporary issues in rhetoric and technical communication. The technical communication topics this dissertation covers include criticisms of expediency as a motive in technical communication; the changing landscape of instruction manual composition; the role of purpose-completion and stakeholder awareness in visual rhetoric; and the futility of advancing ideology-free technical writing pedagogies. More theoretical topics this dissertation covers include Kenneth Burke's notions of rhetorical "war" and entelechy; the pluralistic underpinnings of Kantian moral philosophy; and the rhetorical utility of democratic inefficiency.