Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Jan Osborn
Dr. Brian Glaser
Dr. Ian Barnard
Throughout history, revolutions have been plagued by unpredictability; it is all but impossible to know when cultural systems will be turned on their heads. Is there a common motivator, to predict social unrest bubbling beneath the surface of society? I suggest the development of this motivator is detectable by deconstructing Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiotic patterns within the field of rhetorical mythology. “Mythology,” in the rhetorical and linguistic sense developed by Roland Barthes, is the study of a collective system of thinking we subconsciously subscribe to when interpreting meaning, perpetuated by greater society. The struggle for meaning is split into the binary of a powerful Dominant Myth and power-seeking Submissive Myths. By breaking down subtle sociological progression evident in rhetorical mythology, I reveal how Submissive Myths betray their inevitable intent: to revolt against Dominant Myth truth, replacing them with newly crafted signs of their own design, and wield these new truths against the old socio-political order as the new Dominant Myth. This is difficult to predict without a precedent, which is why I analyze three of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novels to establish a template: Notes From the Underground, The Idiot, and Demons. With help from Mikhail Bakhtin’s linguistic analysis of Dostoevsky, I chart how each novel feeds into the next towards mythological metamorphoses from written page to reality, charting the inevitability of the Bolshevik Revolution. Once the template is fashioned, I propose an original rhetorical expression of my own: The Subversive Myth. Informed by Paulo Freire’s frames of oppression, this new rhetorical myth will uncover the life cycle of revolution with language as the motivator, determining the dashed line along which social reconstruction is directed – a line that appears quite circular in shape.
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Guetersloh, Connor. Murmurs of Revolution: Mythical Subversion in Dostoevsky. 2020. Chapman University, MA Thesis. Chapman University Digital Commons, https://doi.org/10.36837/chapman.000168