Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



My dissertation examines the rhetorical treatment of sickle cell anemia as synecdoche, representing a preoccupation with racialized discourses of disease and the affective registers manifested in public life. From its inception SCA has taken on cultural meanings to satisfy ideological arguments about the nature of black bodies.

It has been appropriated to create “categories of difference and belonging” (Schramm et al). I examine how SCA is gathered by rhetors to serve varying ideological purposes and cultural communities. It is utilized to invite different readings that conceptualize the black body as an object of scientific experimentation, as an agent for resistance and as a narrative of injustice.

Foregrounding SCA materializes the language of racialized medical technology, actualizes the convergence of disease identity and social disruption and visualizes the articulation and ontology of a pained black body. Finally, SCA is much more than the replacement of thymine for guanine, the stymied travel of a red blood cell through the maze of human physiology and the deprivation of oxygen for organs in potential pain and debilitation. SCA discourse is verdant with ways to interpret the persistence of race in society. It is ripe with opportunities to uncover how racism is disclosed in “verbal props” that undergird biological determinism and rationalize genetic causation.



Committee Chair

McCann, Bryan



Included in

Rhetoric Commons