Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Jeff Pruchnic


Over the past decade, scholars in Rhetoric and Composition have shown renewed interest in the topic of ethics, prompting what some have described as an ethical turn in the discipline. Spurred by a deep-seated concern for the legacies of humanism, scholars have turned increasingly to extra-disciplinary referents in continental philosophy. This dissertation works to recuperate the discipline’s native ethical tradition via a critical rereading of the often-implicit treatment of ethics in Composition scholarship of the 1980s and 1990s. Returning to this “critical” moment and emphasizing the rich thinking around the question of ethics provides fuller and more disciplinary-specific resources for the ethical dilemmas raised by the ethical turn. The dissertation also works to reclaim the discipline’s commitments to the practical and pedagogical implications of ethical inquiry, which offers a much-needed corrective to the densely theoretical frameworks of the ethical turn. Building from a dialectical approach, the dissertation examines affinities between these two bodies of scholarship, and argues for the value of developing ethical programs (for the writing classroom) that build from within common premises.