Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The dissertation alleges that a speaker may juggle roles in a given rhetorical situation, what may be termed role duality. Role duality refers to a speaker's attempt to effect multiple intentions while fulfilling or partially fulfilling multiple role expectations. A purpose of this dissertation was to speculate further on the nature and function of role duality by analyzing the speeches of James Shannon. Correspondingly, another purpose was to evaluate through rhetorical criticism the pro-slavery, anti-abolitionist speeches of Shannon. Shannon (1799-1859), an evangelist in the Churches of Christ and an influential educator, delivered two principal speeches in defense of slavery: (1) "The Philosophy of Slavery as identified with the Philosophy of Human Happiness" given to the Franklin Society of Bacon College, Harrodsburg, Kentucky, on 27 June 1844 and (2) "An Address Delivered before the Pro-slavery Convention of the State of Missouri, Held in Lexington, July 13, 1855.". The dissertation sought to determine (1) whether sufficient evidence existed to ascertain Shannon's intentions in delivering the addresses, (2) whether Shannon's rhetorical choices could be said to constitute role duality, and (3) whether the means Shannon employed furthered his goals. A preponderance of evidence pointed to the conclusion that Shannon harbored multiple intentions, and that while addressing an immediate audience, he also had in mind reaching wealthy southerners who might help Bacon College in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, or Christian University in Canton, Missouri. Less clear was whether a discernible strategy accompanied that effort. Organization seemed to play an insignificant part in reaching contributors, undecided border state auditors, and potential employers. Based on the two speeches, roughly half of Shannon's arguments were reasonably sound, seemingly indicating that Shannon was more concerned with identifying with southerners emotionally than logically convincing all listeners. As represented in the anti-abolitionist speaking of James Shannon, role duality may be seen as a strategy best reserved for desperate moments, for persons with high credibility, and for ceremonial occasions.