Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Richard Harmon Thames
Janie Marie Harden-Fritz
Anthony M. Wachs
rhetoric, communication, ethics, secrecy, jargon, Joshua Gunn, Sissela Bok, occult, lying, obfuscation
Occultic rhetoric, according to Joshua Gunn, is a genre of discourse concerned with the study and practice of secret communications. The strategic sharing of secret messages involves a host of methods and conventions designed for the selective disclosure of hidden knowledge, thus controlling the boundaries of (and accessibility to power between) insider and outsider groups. Occultic rhetoric has its uses in everyday encounters, but the abuse of such manipulative strategies, especially by those in the academy and other positions of power and trust, calls for an ethical response. This dissertation submits occultic rhetoric to moral investigation by incorporating the works of Sissela Bok who examined the ethics of both secrecy and lying. By applying her principles to case studies of deliberately disguised or distorted messages in academic settings, this project suggests an approach for the moral exercise of secret communications, otherwise known as an ethics of occultic rhetoric.
Begley, J. T. (2019). The Ethics of Occultic Communication: An Invocation of Joshua Gunn and Sissela Bok (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1758