Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Rhetoric and Public Discourse

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Steven Schwarze

Commitee Members

Neva Hassanein, Sara Hayden


environmental rhetoric, the feminine style, autobi


University of Montana


Advancing the environmental movement requires overcoming a number of rhetorical challenges. Rhetors must negotiate the significant dichotomies of environmental rhetoric including human/nature, public/private, and science/experience. Moreover, they face the challenge of educating and mobilizing uninformed citizens to take action. This analysis focuses on how Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist, writer, and environmental activist, negotiates these challenges. I argue that Steingraber negotiates these challenges by turning to three interrelated rhetorical strategies: the feminine style, autobiography, and synecdoche. I illustrate this through an analysis of two texts Steingraber wrote after becoming a mother: Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, and Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis. I argue that Steingraber’s rhetoric aids her in overcoming a dichotomous approach to environmental issues, and that Raising Elijah is especially effective in positioning her target audience of parents to take action on the individual, collective, and political levels.



© Copyright 2014 Mollie Katherine Murphy