Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English: English Studies

First Advisor

Julie Jung


In the dissertation “Enabling Pain, Enabling Insight: Opening up Possibilities for Chronic Pain in Disability Rhetoric and Rhetoric and Composition,” Hilary Selznick argues that pain is rhetorical, accessible, and communicable to those without the lived experience of chronic pain. Additionally, she argues for the necessity of considering chronic pain as a disability and not merely as a symptom of a disability. In order to make these arguments possible, Selznick crafts a political-relational-rhetorical methodology that challenges restrictive models of disability and theoretical and commonplace assumptions that pain is resistant to language. Specifically, Selznick’s methodology, which combines disability scholar and activist Alison Kafer’s political-relational model of disability with research in disability and feminist rhetorics, makes visible the socio-political, cultural, economic, and material realties of living with chronic pain and the generative power of rhetoric to transform commonplace understandings of disability. In so doing, this dissertation reveals disability as positive difference. In this way, Selznick’s dissertation not only disrupts and intervenes in problematic rhetorics of chronic pain, but also introduces alternative and productive rhetorics of pain that account for pain as a necessary and privileged position. By doing this work, this dissertation provides a presence for chronic pain and persons with chronic pain in disability rhetoric, rhetoric and composition, disability studies, feminist rhetorics, and medical rhetorics, while also forging critical alliances between these diverse yet intersecting fields.


Imported from ProQuest Selznick_ilstu_0092E_11038.pdf


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