This thesis details an analysis of a project called Exposing the Silence in order to learn about agency and discursive space. This gallery for traumatic birth stories serves as a relevant site for better understanding how women are constituting their experiences with embodied autonomy and rhetorical dis/empowerment and how they come together to visually and discursively form a feminist space online. I completed a rhetorical analysis of the birth narratives and of an interview with Lindsay Askins, one of the creators of Exposing the Silence. My study finds that a dyadic relationship between embodied autonomy and rhetorical agency exists while women negotiate power constructs during their traumatic obstetric experiences. When their rhetorical agency was diminished, so was their embodied autonomy. While they asserted agency during the traumatic experience, loss of agency is the main reason for their feelings of trauma. However, they work to re-assert rhetorical agency by sharing their narratives in the discursive space. The discursive space of the website is feminist because it promotes the rhetorical agency of its users and provides the opportunity for its users to socially construct that agency. My study contributes to the rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) through its focus on how women constitute their embodied autonomy and rhetorical agency when speaking about an experience in which they lost some amount of both. I especially contribute an interpretation of how rhetorical agency, a discursive assertion of agency, can interact with agency itself, or embodied autonomy, without being the same entities. This project also contributes to RHM through its focus on how an online feminist visual-discursive space is socially constructed by its occupants and creators to assert rhetorical agency.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Writing and Rhetoric
English; Rhetoric and Composition
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Raynor, Ella, "Constituting Rhetorical Agency in a Feminist Discursive Space" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6067.