Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Member

David Blakesley

Committee Member

Cynthia Haynes

Committee Member

Kelly Smith

Committee Member

Brygg Ullmer


This dissertation concerns the prevalent disconnect between writing instruction and moral education in modern university settings. The project calls for integrating the progymnasmata as informed through Aristotelian virtue ethics to enable rhetorical flourishing. I examine the need for explicit ethical frameworks in writing instruction, evaluating multiple approaches and advocating virtue ethics. All fourteen exercises of the progymnasmata, according to the system popularized by Aphthonius of Antioch, will be detailed and updated for the contemporary classroom. Quintilian’s pedagogical scholarship and practice will serve as a model for application. The specific virtues of adaptability, experimentation, and mindfulness will be promoted as central values of the rhetorical tradition uniquely suited for bridging the gap between composition training and ethical development.



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