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Gregory Coles


How can individual voices at the margins of society claim the salience of a collective identity without essentializing diverse “marginal” identities or erasing the particularities of the people who inhabit them? My dissertation, currently titled “Advantageous Incapacity: Reading the Margins with Kenneth Burke,” argues that this question demonstrates the need for a more fluid semiotic model in rhetorical studies, a model theorized through Burke’s engagement with C.S. Peirce (often considered the founder of semiotics) and others. Power on the linguistic margins, I propose, often resides within the negotiated space where meaning is deliberated and in flux—a space which is not inherently central or marginal in location, but which traverses both locations.