Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Ronald C. Arnett
Janie Harden Fritz
Kathleen Glenister Roberts
Buber, Bakhtin, conscience, community, Catholic Worker
This offering considers what I term the embedded narrative of Dorothy Day (1897-1980) as a Rhetoric of Defiance and Devotion and it is illustrated by selected metaphors associated with Martin Buber and M. M. Bakhtin. Concepts of conscience, community and the complexities associated with being authentically human are engaged within an interpretive journey of a life lived in response to the flashpoints of the last century.
Enlisting hermeneutics as a guide, Day's petite narrative is situated against a broader narrative of eight decades of economic, social, political, cultural and (for her) philosophical and spiritual changes. Her various and varying labels are explored: radical, rhetorician, journalist, mistress, wife, divorcée, single parent, pacifist, activist, agitator, convert, founder of the Catholic Worker, and 'thorn in the side of both church and state.'
This work argues that Day is a realistic idealist and a textured-by-humanity communication role model whose authenticity and courage challenges the current climate of cynicism, non-responders and failed heroes. Day is proposed as a genuine hero who demanded of her admirers that 'they also join the work' thus promoting praxis over piety. While Day finds an intellectual home within Gadamer's criteria of 'word and deed,' philosophically, she is invested in Buber's call for community and his thinking about our complex humanity. With Bakhtin, Day shares a construct of the 'no-alibi' conscience.
Fitzwilliams, C. (2009). A Unity of Contraries: Dorothy Day and the 'No-Alibi' Rhetoric of Defiance and Devotion (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/544