Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Patricia A. Sullivan

Committee Chair

Patricia A. Sullivan

Committee Member 1

Jennifer L. Bay

Committee Member 2

Samantha Blackmon

Committee Member 3

Thomas J. Rickert


Influenced by a drive to seek out interdisciplinary connections within Rhetoric and Composition and to put these intersections into practice, this dissertation seeks out the ways indigenous ways of knowing, such as storytelling, can provide a heuristic to understand the ways our dappled discipline works to create community-based knowledges, and how these knowledges sustained through storytelling can recover the histories in our discipline by opening up our boundaries framed by dominant origin stories. Building on the work of decolonial and indigenous scholars, this dissertation asserts that indigenous storytelling encourages researchers to re-tool dominant methods in existing colonial structures in order to do the work of knowledge-making that more easily includes posthuman practices alongside distinctively human ones. Using the Cherokee Female Seminary during the nineteenth century as a case for this kind of methodology, storytelling uncovers and builds relationships through participatory means, contextualizing both the human and non-human agents in archival work that can work to decenter the discipline by using knowledge-making through storytelling as an active, balancing force. The result is revisionist history, but it’s also a returning present reality--the reality that these archives have always already been indigenous even in a colonized state, the reality that our research methodology need to navigate colonial structures still present, and the reality we, as scholars, must seek reflective practices that are vigilant against our own cultural ecologies. While enriching historiographic work in Rhetoric and Composition, the storytelling in this dissertation develops interdisciplinary themes in knowledge-making practices that are indigenous, rhetorical, posthuman, and ecological, and can be applied to research methodologies in professional writing, digital rhetorics, and historiography.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons