Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

James L. Cherney


This dissertation explores the theoretical and practical relationship between our understandings of emotion’s role in political decision-making. In this pursuit I seek a resurrection for pathos’s legitimacy in persuasive studies through the pursuit of the pathetic political realm. This work has three primary concerns: how may pathetic power be accessed, from where does this power originate, and how might political actors enact this power for their own political goals. I draw primarily from theories related to visual rhetoric and the body in order to provide perspective on how the body is politicized through the pathetic realm. Theoretical perspectives are drawn from scholars like Aristotle, Robert Hariman, and Susan Bordo to extricate the positioning of the body within American politics.