Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Chuck Morris

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This thesis rhetorically examines the discourse surrounding disability and body capabilities. I employ feminist theory, queer theory, disability, theory and performance theory as I analyze the memoirs and media surrounding two disabled elite athletes, Sarah Reinertsen and Mark Zupan. I examine the construction of identity for these athletes and what the language use surrounding these athletes means to the current status of disability discourse. These memoirs have the potential to reach a large lay audience, and therefore, the opportunity to educate and challenge assumptions. My analysis leads me to conclude that the limitations of memoir and societal pressures allow for instances of disability to be challenged only when heteronormative and hegemonic instances of other identities are also upheld.


Open Access