Publication details [#2778]

Bowden, Darsie. 1991. The mythology of voice. Los Angeles, Calif..
Publication type
Ph.D dissertation
Publication language


In this dissertation, I critically examine the metaphor of voice in literary and composition theory. Voice has often been used to describe a number of textual phenomena, ranging from the traditional stylistic identification of a writer's persona to a metaphysical sense of authorial presence that enables readers to "hear" an authentic person behind the words. I argue that the use of the voice metaphor fosters a conception of writing that is so tightly connected to speech that we tend to identify the writer on the same terms as the speaker, raising expectations that the author's persona and the speaker's persona have similar identifiable, unique, and individual features. I explore not only the differences between writer and speaker, which are prompted by the nature of the medium, but also, taking a less conventional approach, I show how the listener and reader might be engaged in similar activities. Maintaining that the creation of ethos or persona in written texts is a co-construction between writer and reader, I present a phenomenology of reading that is based on the "revoicing" of the text by the reader. The phenomenology of writing I posit draws authority and constructs ethos in light of this cooperative, co-constructive enterprise. Thus, the "voice" of writing is not so much rejected as a metaphor as it is reconceptualized in two distinct but related ways. First, voice is always voices; it is a plural, dialogic affair, the dynamic of which is grounded in power struggles between the discourses and voices within each text. And, second, a primary player in textual voicing is the voice - the actual, physical voice - of the reader. (Darsie Bowden)