Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Helen Sterk (Director), Dr. Angela Jerome, and Dr. Carl Kell

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Rhetorical agency is an ideologically contentious facet within communication and rhetorical research. While its importance in scholarship can be traced back to early works by Kenneth Burke and Pierre Bourdieu, debate continues regarding the source of agency, how it is enacted in rhetorical application and communication, and who/what can claim responsibility for the communication practices one may utilize in enacting their respective levels of agency. Thus, the ways in which the rhetoric of popular, influential individuals/antecedents affects the rhetorical agency and invention practices of those without significant levels of influence must be examined. American Christianity, in particular the culture created through heavy use of televised and web-media (televangelism), provides an excellent context to examine this subject. The present thesis discusses relevant literature to the topics of rhetorical agency, invention, and antecedents, as well as American Christianity, televangelism, and the changes that have occurred in religious rhetoric within the culture. Additionally, results indicate a high propensity towards rhetorical agency influenced through the themes of identity, adaptation, and audience sensitivity, and encourage pastors to focus on the identity and context through which their agency is manifested.


Christianity | Other Philosophy | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Rhetoric