Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Ken Zagacki


This study sought to initiate the process of identifying the rhetoric of mathematics as a distinct field of research, while acknowledging its basis in the rhetoric of science and other literatures. Accordingly, the study started by examining the external basis of the rhetoric of mathematics; in other words, how discourse affects the way in which the culture views mathematics. The primary text for this study was the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' three-volume Standards for School Mathematics. This document, designed to reform mathematics education from kindergarten through twelfth grade, was shown not to be completely successful in its goal of encouraging teachers to adopt its viewpoint. A synthesis of narrative theory and movement theory was used in this analysis. Marie Maclean's and Susan Lanser's conceptions of narrative were used to ground the theoretical framework, with Didier Coste's work used to bridge the gap between literary conceptions of narrative and communication theory. The study also examined the Standards as a movement, using Ralph Smith and Russell Windes' approach to the study of innovational movements. The NCTM had aspects of a transformational movement as well as an innovational movement, but did not completely belong to either type of movement. This study also examined the NCTM as an expert rhetor, using Thomas Lessl's conception of scientific rhetors who move into the public sphere. The study examined how expert rhetors must ultimately exhort fellow members of an elite subgroup, while at the same time, encouraging new members to join.