Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Communication Studies


Alison Fisher Bodkin


This thesis examines the ways that rhetorics of resistance can operate in contemporary social conditions. I do this specifically by examining the rhetoric of Judy Bonds, an environmental justice activist who opposed mountaintop removal (MTR) mining in Appalachia. I utilize a qualitative rhetorical approach to examine 34 instances of Bonds’ discourse as well as my own autoethnographic reflections focused on my work with Mountain Justice, a regional anti-MTR activist organization. Pairing the constant comparative method with principles of ideological criticism, informed by theories of place, voice, memory, and narrative, forms this qualitative rhetorical approach. The postmodern turn allows for the multiple, unique, instances of rhetoric to be viewed as fragments of discourse. That is to say that, while each instance of rhetoric is evaluated as having unique properties, the postmodern turn allows for overarching themes and discourses to emerge. Bonds’ rhetoric reveals a unique use of discourses of space, place, and a queered rhetoric of family and family values. Further research may explore the creation of an archive of Bonds’ rhetoric, ways that the image of the cyborg and assemblage theory might illuminate identity relationships in rhetoric of resistance, images of a utopian future for Appalachia, and performances of memorialization within environmental justice movements. Ultimately, though, this research points toward the need to complicate an understanding of the ways that certain tropes and metaphors are deployed as discrete, and rather view them as implicating one another and operating simultaneously within an instance of rhetoric.



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