Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-21-2018


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Erik A. Garrett

Committee Member

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Richard H. Thames


Philosophy of Communicative Experience, Aimé Césaire, la Négritude, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, Lewis R. Gordon, Phenomenology


This dissertation project sets out to perform a rhetorical and phenomenological analysis of the subjectivity that Césaire portrays in his epic poem Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, or Notebook of a Return to My Native Land. Césaire published and republished Cahier four times in a 17-year period and the modified accounts of subjectivity presented in the lines of the poem mirrors that of Césaire’s own human subjectivity. Césaire poetically unleashes Cahier and his Négritude project in an effort to shift the geography of reason from its self-appointed European center, to create a liminal space for the totalized and autonomous development of human subjectivity, and to reconceptualize understandings of humanism in an effort to create space for a future that is rich in its particularity—in this case the particularity of human subjectivity. Césaire did not call for a reparation of the past nor a reclamation of the present, but rather offered a proclamation for a future wherein any conceptualization of the universal would be constituted by the particularity of the human subject as it presents itself to the other and the world. The dissertation project will critically examine the communicative, rhetorical, and phenomenological significance of Césaire’s accounts of human subjectivity in Cahier and his Négritude project as forms of linguistic empowerment aimed squarely at de-centering, shifting, and perhaps expanding the geography of reason so as to create and preserve a liminal space for the totalized and autonomous development of the richness that is found in the particularity of all human subjectivity.