Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Jeff Pruchnic


This dissertation is a genealogical study of historical intersections between rhetoric and ecology. Studying the works of Heraclitus, Francis Bacon, T.H. Huxley and Darwin as "bridge figures" in the history of rhetoric, science and ecological thought, I examine how their rhetorical theories and strategies (as discursive practices, performances and techniques) form a genealogy that bridges rhetorical and ecological theories and practices. My analysis studies their critical assessments and uses of rhetoric as it intersects with each figure's new investigations into natural philosophy, nature, and evolutionary biology, while drawing out relevant lessons for contemporary ecological and rhetorical thinkers. The main threads in my study include the evolution of rhetoric as technê as productive knowledge, invention or intervention, the role of rhetoric in bridging of natural and artificial, the evolving idea of `mastery', and the development of persuasion into theories of social ecologies, among others. My study concludes by comparing these different attempts to make strategic use of rhetoric and technê, and draws conclusions about the value of this deeper rhetorical history of ecological thought for environmental rhetoric, science studies, and contemporary critical theories dealing with ecological themes.