Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English
Elise Verzosa Hurley
This dissertation focuses on public policies that are presented under the pretext that they benefit all members of society but that in fact reserve those privileges for those who conform to reductive policy mandates. Specifically, this project employs an intersectional feminist rhetorical methodology that is committed to identifying and challenging exclusionary rhetorics of efficiency and propelling the agentive power of those whose embodied realities places them outside of the normative user-group imagined by, and constructed through, a specific policy. This dissertation begins with a synthesis of scholarship that is key to the theorization and application of an intersectional feminist rhetorical, particularly intersectional feminist scholarship, feminist and disability scholarship, and technical and professional communication scholarship that prioritizes underrepresented groups and usability.
Building from this scholarship, the identifying features of an intersectional feminist rhetorical framing of usability and key terms for the project are articulated. Applying this methodology to public policy, the project next analyzes a case study of Baby Friendly USA to examine how the long-term goal of infant health is weakened by rhetorics of efficiency that undermine marginalized users intersectional, embodied needs. Shifting from public health policy to voting policy, the second case study examines Ohio’s voter purge policy and the discourses that justify the purging of multiply marginalized users from voter rolls. In each of these case studies, critique of a policy is followed by descriptions and analysis of the individuals and groups already engaged in resistance. Highlighting this work as a model for intersectional feminist rhetorical approaches, this dissertation also attends to how technical and professional communication, rhetoric, and composition teacher scholars might learn from and amplify the work of those outside of academia. The final case study describes how an intersectional feminist rhetorical pedagogy informed the teaching of an introductory technical and professional communication course. This dissertation discusses both the benefits and risks of this approach, the affordance and limitations of the curricula presented in this project, and the potential usefulness of this pedagogical approach for other teacher scholars.
The project concludes by proposing future applications for an intersectional feminist rhetorical methodology for technical and professional communication, rhetoric, and communication teaching and scholarship as well as public policy and engagement with publics outside of the university.
Gilson, Oriana A., "An Intersectional Feminist Rhetorical Reframing of Rhetorics of Efficiency within Public Policy: Embodied Knowledge and Usability" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 1424.