Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Lois P. Agnew


Dolores Huerta, Ethos, Genre theory, Intersectionality, Mestiza Consciousness, Rhetorical Analysis

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences



La Pasionaria: The Ethos of a Leader was directed by Lois Agnew. This dissertation project inserts Latina activist Dolores Huerta into the feminist rhetorical tradition and traces the complicated ways in which ethos is constructed from multiply oppressed bodies within the context of social movements. Specifically, Huerta’s ethos formation is examined in order to identify the rhetorical strategies required when someone not only lacking power, but also purposefully silenced, is able to break through societal barriers and create change. The intent of this research is to build on the work of feminist rhetorical scholars and discover how attending to Huerta’s inescapable embodied identities provides a deeper conceptualization of rhetorical strategy. Through the rhetorical analysis of a variety of texts by, and about, Huerta I examine how she was positioned by others as well positions herself through language, and more specifically language that describes and/or defines her embodied identity categories.

Ultimately, as a study of ethos and how it is affected by identity this dissertation project argues that the body and the embodied identities associated with it significantly shapes how ethos can and is constructed. In examining how social justice activist Dolores Huerta constructed her ethos during the initial organization of the United Farmworkers Union I aim to both highlight the role of Huerta as a co-founder of the UFW and add Huerta as an important rhetorical figure of study in the field of Rhetoric.


Open Access