Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies



Committee Chair

Wendy Atkins-Sayre

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

John Meyer

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Casey Maugh-Funderburk

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Laura Stengrim

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Paul Strait

Committee Member 5 School



This dissertation seeks to explicate a rhetorical conceptualization from C. S. Lewis’s notion of longing, or sehnsucht, in hopes of extending its employment to two other contemporary contexts—Christian Hedonism and American Humanism. To do so, I utilize the method of rhetorical criticism to analyze Lewis’s most famous sermon entitled The Weight of Glory. Following this paradigm chapter, I then compare uses of longing within the contemporary evangelical philosophy called Christian Hedonism initiated during the eighties through the seminal text entitled Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. In doing so, I uncover distinct aspects of longing within a metaphysical framework of rhetorical transcendence. Through the lens of Betz’s (1985) Theology of Hope, the sacred substance of joy emerged as a form of immanence offering sustenance to participants for their continued progression to the Christian Other. Finally, I rhetorically analyzed the three manifestoes of the American Humanist Association (AHA) as a means to discover uses of longing within a philosophical framework totally absent of supernaturalism. Distinctively, humanists, like Christian hedonists, utilize longing in relation to imagining a futuristic world community. Through this rhetorical vision, the humanistic discourse of the manifestoes is shown to be a form of religious rhetoric in that it reveals the world as already in transition through constitutive rhetoric. The ultimate finding of this dissertation demonstrates that the employment of longing as a rhetorical motive in these three scenarios all inherently aim for a place, or topos, thus innovating past perceptions of rhetorical transcendence.



Included in

Rhetoric Commons