Scholars interested in exploring the potency of the writing modality of critical pedagogy for molding students into proactive citizens will find the integration of Kenneth Burke’s Dramatism and Walter Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm instrumental, offering tools essential for cultivating a rhetorical awareness adept at navigating narratives in the 21st century. Synthesizing Burke’s rhetorical dialectic between the nature of reality and our understanding of it with Fisher’s concept that the human condition is a narrative condition yields insights into the critical writing process. This integration fosters a rhetorical awareness, serving as an inoculant to influence, countering the prevailing persuasive elements within today’s public discourse that empower students to engage with narrative more critically. Furthermore, this thesis situates the roles of writing instructors within a balanced methodology to support cultivating informed student decision-making while avoiding ideological imposition. This thesis reassesses writing instruction as a crucible for critical reflection and engagement in varied professional, public, and private discourse. I posit an alternative view of critical pedagogy as not just a channel for social change through writing but a nuanced engagement at the intersection of personal and social identities with narrative. This thesis promotes rhetorical preparedness over rhetorical assertiveness, presenting a framework for critical citizenship emphasizing rhetorical awareness aligned with Burke’s terministic trivium that language is a reflection, selection, and deflection of reality. Thereby showing that cultivating critical citizenship through these rhetorical frameworks aligns with Kant’s call for enlightenment, underscoring the interplay of rhetoric, narrative, and critical reflection at the intersection of ontology and narrative.

Date of publication

Fall 12-7-2023

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Dr. Anett Jessop, Dr. Brent Yergensen, Dr. David Strong


Master of Arts in English