Semester of Graduation

Fall 2023


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Beginning in the summer of 2020, an activist movement has arisen in opposition to Critical Race Theory (CRT). This movement has mobilized tens of thousands of Americans and passed policy curtailing the discussion of race in classrooms despite a lack of evidence that CRT has any meaningful presence in many of the public institutions targeted. This movement challenges logic-based conceptions of rhetorical persuasion and demands an alternative model. In this thesis, I propose that a narrative conception of rhetoric provides a framework for understanding how this movement is rational, despite the falsifiability of its foundation. Specifically, I respond to Walter Fisher’s articulation of the narrative paradigm, arguing that an ideological lens and a more expansive understanding of narrative can address two of the key shortcomings that have led his theory to be largely neglected. Furthermore, I propose that by extending his concept of narrative fidelity to focus on the narrative infidelity felt by auditors at odds with the discourse they perceive as dominant, we can uncover how motivations like white resentment can drive narrative change.



Committee Chair

McCann, Bryan J.