Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Goldzwig, Steven R.

Second Advisor

Bonewits-Feldner, Sarah

Third Advisor

Caulfield, Johnette


Dorothy Day, the co-founder and pragmatic leader of The Catholic Worker Movement, delivered extemporaneous speeches from the inception of the movement in 1933 until her death in 1980. Selected digitized, archival copies of her public discourse are analyzed for the first time through a newly developed framework for rhetorical communication and leadership entitledEncounter Rhetoric.

A hybrid model synthesizing the theory of invitational rhetoric, transformational leadership theory, and social movement theory is developed and employed to conduct a critical analysis of 17 speeches delivered by Day between 1958 and 1975. This analysis reveals the rhetorical strategies employed by Day as a social movement leader.

The framework is comprised of five constructs: (1.) principled persuasion as an ethical means to communicate and to lead, (2.) unconditional regard for the value of process, mutuality, and voice, (3.) tentativeness in understanding and concluding, (4.) acknowledgment of paradox in perceptions and conditions, and (5.) collaborative action. These constructs inform Dorothy Day's charismatic eloquence and leadership.

Even as a self-admitted apprehensive speaker, Dorothy Day's public discourse reveals The Catholic Worker Movement's communication strategy as well as a discernible format for extemporaneous dialogical exchange. As an analytical framework and as a rubric for communication practitioners and leaders in other settings, encounter rhetoric is offered as a means for dismantling binary positions and potentially providing relief to otherwise marginalized voices and communities.

In addition, the potential relevance of the framework is considered in relation to new and social media, including reflections upon those parties unwilling or unable to respectfully or safely engage in encounters of mutual regard. The usefulness of encounter rhetoric may be further considered as a tool for analyzing the rhetorical acumen of communicators as leaders and leaders as communicators, especially those orators, reluctant or charismatic, who traditionally have not been included as subjects for study in academic scholarship.