Positioning the subject in discourse: Toward a rhetorical theory of voice in writing
Debra Lynn Jacobs
School: Purdue University
Date: 1995; pp: 317
Advisor: Lauer, Janice M.
Source: DAI-A 56/09, p. 3562, Mar 1996
Subjects: Language, General (0679)
ProQuest Document Number:
UMI Number: AAT 9601514
This dissertation examines voice as a concept that pertains to assumptions about a writer as a producer and a component of discourse. The study involves discerning assumptions about self and subjectivity that inform conceptions of voice. Seven theoretical approaches to writing are interrogated to disclose those assumptions. The approaches are classified as ‘process’ and ‘social constructionist’ theories, which serve as broad theoretical frameworks in which to locate, respectively, classical, expressionist, cognitive developmental, and epistemic theories, as well as discourse community theory, consensus theory, and critical hermeneutic rhetoric.
Contested issues of voice arise from conflicts over competing assumptions about the writer. Five issues–authenticity, identity, authority, agency, and authorship–are shown to be connected to conceptions of the relationship between the individual and the social. In addition, the issues are investigated by locating them in other arenas of scholarship. Scholarship on orality and literacy helps to frame the investigation of authenticity and identity. This arena also suggests that there are points of contrast between speech and writing identified by many orality/literacy scholars that pertain to conceptions of voice.
Authority and agency are examined with reference to a poetic/rhetoric framework, and authorship is considered in the framework of situation/art. Principles of dialogism are brought to bear on the issues to prepare for an alternative conception of voice in writing.