Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Until the late twentieth century, courses in voice and diction were a staple of the field of communication studies. Increasingly these classes are disappearing from departments around the country, largely over concerns regarding the prescription of strict speech standards. At the same time, an interest in vocal training has increased in BFA and MFA actor training programs. This study looks to the shared history of voice training between the fields of communication studies and theatre instruction to provide a critical pedagogy for vocal performance, specifically for the area of performance studies, but also for use in other disciplines. Informed by feminist and queer theory, this dissertation examines the history of vocal instruction in the U. S. from the publication of Dr. James Rush’s Philosophy of the Human Voice in 1823 to the present. The study examines the major works of the elocution and expression movements in the U.S., recovers the voice instruction of twentieth-century theatre practitioners Konstantin Stanislavski and Jerzy Grotowski, and explores training in the “natural voice” as described by Kristin Linklater. Grounded in such a lineage of vocal pedagogy, the study provides an outline for voice instruction that honors the unique vocal qualities of the student performer while providing the student with tools for being heard, understood, and for maintaining healthy vocal usage over multiple rehearsals and performances.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bowman, Ruth Laurion



Included in

Communication Commons