Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Shevaun Watson

Committee Members

Rachel Bloom-Pojar, Wiliam Keith, Derek Handley, Jennifer Borda


Citizenship, Deliberation, Democracy, Public Discourse, Rhetoric and Composition, Writing


Despite rhetoric and composition maintaining a role as a producer of democracy, democratic deliberation has not appeared widely as a pedagogical practice, outside of reinforcing traditional modes of argumentative writing. This dissertation articulates the dispositions and practices for a deliberative pedagogy in composition that supports students’ development of rhetorical understandings of social-political life, actively redresses exclusions and inequities in dominant understandings of democracy, and engages the discipline with a progressive vision of social change. Agency and citizenship are re-theorized as a grounding to this pedagogy, making clear how a wide variety of communicative acts support the processes and aims of public deliberation and constitute the behaviors of democracy as a way of life. Drawing from two semesters of in-class study, I demonstrate how employing deliberation as a method of instruction, as thematic content for class study, and as a technique for classroom management encourages students to recognize and self-consciously frame their day-to-day writing and speaking as democratic action. The major findings include that deliberative pedagogy leads to transformative change in students’ attitudes towards democracy, expands students’ sense of self-efficacy in writing and communicating on public issues, and supports students in exercising reflective, democratic control over the conditions of their education.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons