Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Robert A. Schuegler

Abstract

This project is a book-length study of the manifesto, which attempts to trace adaptations writers have made to the genre, beginning with the Luther's "95 Theses." From there I move to political manifestoes, including the "Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants and Marx and Engels' "Manifesto of the Communist Party," and then to the aesthetic manifestoes of modernism. Later I treat manifestoes of critique, examining texts by Virginia Woolf, Frank O'Hara, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Donna Haraway, the Students for a Democratic Society and the Lesbian Avengers.

While this project is a study of genre and influence, it is grounded in contemporary theories of social reproduction. I avoid taking a taxonomic approach to genre, instead treating the concept as a process, which situates the text within the social context of its production. Generic influence in this study means much more than the "textual correspondences" of a taxonomic approach. In implementing this research method, I examine three elements which capture the richer concept of "social influence:" (1) the social image of the act of production of the text, (2) the rhetorical dynamics of the act, and (3) the formal elements of the act.

This approach allows me to address three issues: (1) the relationship of genre to the agency and socialization of the writer; (2) the relative stability, or lack of it, in a generic form such as the manifesto; and (3) the ways in which the history of writing practices both constrains and enables the future writing practices of individuals. These issues are also important to pedagogy, given the prevalence of writing courses centered around the uses of genre.

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