Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jan Osborn

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian Glaser

Third Advisor

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Please note that this work is separate from my published poster of the same name, which, upon further inquiry and research, does not reflect myth correctly in its diagram. Under the section titled "The Structural Composition of Linguistic Mythology" within this paper, you will find a better explanation and breakdown of linguistic myth's components.



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