Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Richard H. Thames
Janie Harden Fritz
Ronald C. Arnett
W. E. B. DuBois, rhetoric, ethos, logos, pathos, neo-Aristotelian
This study examines the social change rhetoric of scholar and civic activist W.E.B. Du Bois to understand the role, motivations, influences, and shortcomings of his message upon a shifting current of black thought during the late ninetieth and early twentieth-century. In this study, I focus upon Du Bois' rhetorical aptitude in the building of his character, the emotional appeals made to his immediate audience, and the logical arguments and counter arguments that he publicly advanced in developing his program of parallel development.
I contend that in providing an alternate narrative to the competing opinions of accommodation as a solution to the "Negro problem," Du Bois' social change rhetoric was more congruent to black's and liberal white's inclination of mutual social progress and provided a vision in which education and political resistance, in terms of both attitude and action drove blacks to seek to improve themselves as an ethnic group not merely a race.
The study relies heavily on a strict neo-Aristotelian analysis with Burkeian undertones to explicate widely read and significant Du Boisian speeches, written publications, and rhetorical artifacts such as the 1897 speech and later converted pamphlet "The Conservation of the Races," the American Negro Exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition, the published 1901 review of Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery "On Booker T. Washington and Others," and the Souls of Black Folk published in 1903." Ultimately, the study argues that DuBois' approach was rhetorically superior to others, namely Washington, insofar as Du Bois' rhetoric exemplified a greater congruity between the message and his own life, the way in which the message was implemented, the degree to which he embodied it; and its appeal and deference to the opinions of a broader audience.
Clark, F. (2008). W.E.B. Du Bois and the Rhetoric of Social Change, 1897-1907: Attitude as Incipient Action (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/415