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Writing the Disaster: Disruptions of Reason, Religion, and Rhetoric

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posted on 01.05.2020, 00:00 authored by Courtney Sloey
The resurgent question ever-present in the wake of extreme pain, suffering, and inexplicability is “Why?” This question fuels philosophical, scientific, theological, and historical investigation, and the response to this question drives the research of this dissertation. The compulsion towards the question “why” reveals a presumptive necessity for answers, and the ontological burden placed on those answers to ameliorate suffering. Often, the answer to the why is too burdensome, and also, altogether illusory. In this project, “Disaster” is the term given to the inexplicable, extreme event of suffering which disrupts and confuse the strategic path of understanding and also provides a complex rhetorical situation, rich for investigation. The main objective of this dissertation will be to explore responses to pain and suffering and look into how the fields of religion, philosophy and rhetoric and writing the impossible task of “answering” in the midst of those experiences. One of the reasons the project is so fraught is because of the impossibility of answering the most traumatic experiences of pain and suffering. Language, understanding, and rationality at times do not suffice, and so these experiences leave us with only more confusion, questions, and uncertainty. I will be pursuing answers to these questions through a study of theodicy, philosophy post–Holocaust, writing in the disaster, and Expressive Writing pedagogy.



Cintron, Ralph


Cintron, Ralph



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Reames, Robin DeStigter, Todd Havrelock, Rachel Dalton, Drew

Submitted date

May 2020

Thesis type




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