Communication ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2022


While communication scholars have dedicated much research towards defining and furthering effective communication, explorations of speech disability, especially from a critical lens, are largely absent in these pursuits. I conducted a critical rhetorical analysis of the (dis)embodiments of disabled speakers through examining segments from the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) program that cover Joe Biden’s story as a person who stutters, and episodes of StutterTalk, a podcast created by and featuring people who stutter. Moreover, I organize this thesis around two claims: (1) As a person who stutters with certain privilege and power, Joe Biden’s DNC story further secured himself a rhetorical ability that is rooted in ableism, and (2) podcast participants from StutterTalk practice a more ethical rhetorical ability as illuminated in their discourse around Joe Biden’s stutter. Lastly, I develop a theoretical framework of rhetorical ability that emphasizes embodiment as crucial in moving towards ethical rhetorical ability.




rhetorical ability, critical disability studies, stuttering, public speaking, joe biden, stuttertalk

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Michael Lechuga

Second Committee Member

David Weiss

Third Committee Member

Richard Arenas