This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Neoliberal Rhetoric in Higher Education




Sexton, Robin

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




The volatile political and economic environment that surrounds US higher education at this time calls for a nuanced understanding of the greater issues impacting programs, missions, and governance in post-secondary institutions. This project provides a contextualization of what is happening through the lens of political economy, which has shaped our rural and suburban educational landscapes, our businesses, our lives inside and outside of academia. By exploring the rhetoric of neoliberalism and its effects on higher education, I aim to contribute to rhetorical theory by expanding our understandings of the tropes used that reflect the underlying ideology of neoliberalism. This project theorizes neoliberal rhetoric in higher education and, more narrowly, neoliberal rhetoric in writing programs within post-secondary institutions. Using a case study of the Presidential Controversy Papers located in the Auburn University Special Collections and Archives, I analyze examples of rhetoric that reflect neoliberal ideology. My aim with this project is to demonstrate how neoliberal sensibilities are reflected in the rhetorics that occur within the hierarchies of higher education.