Title: Democratic Vistas: The Rhetorical Expression and Promise of Democratic Faith
My dissertation engages the messiness of information in the face of seemingly intractable difference and the unknown: why might individuals marginalized by difference – based on race, gender, or class – have faith in a more equitable or just future despite circumstances that might suggest otherwise? I analyze how marginalized collectivities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries expressed a faith in the power of discourse to challenge and eventually change social injustices, a faith in agitation, and a faith in democracy itself. In particular, I examine the rhetoric and activism of Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Jane Addams in order to better understand the operation of “democratic faith” within marginalized collectivities in relation to traditional notions of certainty, knowledge, and evidence.