Vision, voice, and rhetorics of healing: Towards a Black feminist rhetorical analysis

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Gwendolyn D. Pough


Rhetoric, Writing, African-American, Women, Literacy, Healing

Subject Categories

Rhetoric and Composition


This dissertation examines three sites within the recent discourse on healing that has emerged in the Black community to analyze the choices African American writers make when interpreting and responding to individual and community crises. Since the end of the Black women's literary renaissance during the early 1990s, a discourse on healing has emerged in self-help literature, inspirational books, and popular films directed toward Black women. In these texts, writers deploy rhetorics of healing, or a series of persuasive messages, literacy performances, and rhetorical tropes, to persuade their readers and audience to follow the curricular processes they believe will produce healing. Through an interdisciplinary rhetorical analysis of three sites in the discourse on healing, this dissertation identifies the rhetorical competence (Royster) and the rhetorical consequence of the choices writers make and task they undertake when composing texts and curriculums that produce healing. In chapter one, I describe the exigence for this project, the projected contributions it makes the fields of rhetoric and composition, the premises that guide this project, and the method of Black Feminist Rhetorical Analysis that I use throughout it. The following chapters are case studies of three sites within the rhetoric of healing in the African American communities. Self-help author, Iyanla Vanzant's rhetoric of re-education provides the site and corpus for the first case study I offer in chapter two. In chapter three, I examine the rhetoric of transformation found in mega-church minister, Bishop T. D. Jakes' inspirational books. The last case study I offer in chapter four examines the rhetorics of healing found within Perry's films as an example of how misappropriation can occur within these efforts. In chapter five, I discuss how the intricacies inherent in these rhetorics of healing make a case for why readers, researchers, composition teachers, and writers can benefit from the Black feminist rhetorical analysis I use throughout this dissertation.