Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Linda Bensel-Meyers, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Doug Hesse

Third Advisor

Adam Rovner

Fourth Advisor

Christina F. Foust


Scholarly discourse, Discursive practices, Critical discourse, Kenneth Burke


This dissertation suggests that certain historical moments of transition generate identifiable schisms in scholarly discourse that leave contemporary scholars unable to communicate with one another. At these moments of Augustinian "unlikeness," established scholarly commitments, such as logocentrism, are rendered invisible to the critics that rely on them as new forms and technologies become the (ostensible) talking points of discourse. The confusion at these moments contribute to a complex of discursive practices that can be called "thresholds of invisibility," or moments of transition and division, when scholars are captivated by new forms and less attentive to the continuing influence of already established terministic screens. In the process, however, these normally submerged screens rise to the terministic surface, allowing for in-depth rhetorical analysis.

This dissertation proposes the threshold of invisibility as a concept for identifying moments of contentious and sometimes confused critical discourse where the underpinnings of scholarly rhetorics are "laid bare" for rhetorical analysis. In this dissertation, the threshold of invisibility concept is used to explore a number of critical tools in established rhetorical theory, and then apply them to several case studies of critical discourse on new technologies and issues, including debates on digital photography, video games, and digital composing in college classrooms. The threshold of invisibility concept is a means to practice what Kenneth Burke calls a “criticism of criticism,” an effort to explore the ideologies and methods of meaning-making that underpin scholarly rhetorics.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Robert D. Gilmor


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

312 p.