Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


On the Rhetorical Disability of Students with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Rhetorical Approach to the Trauma-Informed Teaching of College Composition Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF


Attribute NameValues
  • Composition scholars who have written about trauma have typically focused on creating classrooms that are conducive to healing and learning. In doing this work, however, they have considered neither how PTSD nor other people’s responses to it can impact one’s perceived rhetoricity in the college classroom. In other words, they haven’t explored how PTSD interacts with a student’s most essential tool in a composition classroom – their ability to communicate. With that in mind, this thesis relies on rhetorician Catherine Prendergast’s “rhetorical disability,” (the idea that the neurodivergent are constructed as nonrhetorical) to understand the barriers to rhetoricity that college composition students with PTSD face. This thesis builds of the body of work on rhetorical disability, as well as research from multiple fields (including psychology, psychiatry, and folklore studies) to argue that those with PTSD become rhetorically disabled when others respond to their nonlinear experience of time, their inability to maintain neurotypical decorum, and stigma that exists in American culture, among other things. This leads to a proposed definition of rhetoricity that includes those with PTSD. Finally, this thesis then combines this new understanding of rhetoric with existing work on trauma-informed pedagogy to provide both general principles and specific strategies for teaching in ways that protect the rhetoricity of college writing students with PTSD. In particular, this thesis helps composition educators to interrogate how the decorum of their classrooms disables students with PTSD, as well as how to broaden that decorum in the way that supports the rhetoricity of those same students.
Resource Type
Date Issued
Degree Level
Degree Name
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Committee Member
Academic Affiliation
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed



This work has no parents.

In Collection: