Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Deborah Elizabeth Whaley
Fourth Committee Member
In this dissertation, I conceptualize common sense racism as the material basis for the unconscious rhetorical processes that shape and normalize unsympathetic and uncritical public responses to racialized violence against black communities, and which thereby perpetuate racial structures of power and foment white innocence and indifference. This form of common sense is comprised of a set of deeply embedded logics and rationalities—fragmented forms of prepropositional knowledge—that have evolved over time through the shapeshifting ideologies of white supremacy and anti-blackness to partly determine how civil society understands and interprets ongoing legacies of violence. Rather than just thinking of common sense in how we discuss it in everyday talk, I conceptualize and critique it with regard to how it animates and informs some of the fundamental cultural constructs, such as language, time, and humanity, that "we" as a nation rely upon to orient ourselves to and make sense of the world around us. Through these frameworks, common sense racism structures rhetorically how civil society's institutions make meaning in moments of racial crisis, tension, and transformation, and how its dominant publics relate to ongoing histories of racial oppression and abuse, or rather, how they do not relate to them at all. Through three case studies, a theoretical chapter, and an introduction and conclusion, I offer a critical vocabulary for understanding the nation's inability to confront racialized violence while considering the means by which these systems of meaning-making can be disrupted by black vernacular rhetorical practices.
Critical/Cultural Studies, Critical Race Theory, Public Memory, Racism, Vernacular Rhetoric, Whiteness
xi, 278 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 256-278).
Copyright © 2018 Matthew Houdek
Houdek, Matthew. "Common sense racism: the rhetorical grounds for making meaning of racialized violence." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.