A Rhetoric of Finance

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Saas, William O'donnal
Graduate Program:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 12, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Jeremy Engels, Dissertation Advisor
  • Stephen Howard Browne, Committee Member
  • Kirtley Hasketh Wilson, Committee Member
  • Debra Hawhee, Committee Member
  • Jeffrey Nealon, Committee Member
  • Finance
  • Money
  • Currency
  • Heterodox Economics
The problem of finance is presently at the center of two of the most significant crises in the United States. Citizens continue to feel the negative effects of the 2008 financial meltdown. At the same time, recent Supreme Court rulings have reinforced the popular sentiment that hyper-accumulation of money is the surest path to political enfranchisement in the United States. While rhetorical critics are well equipped to critique the rhetoric of economics, they are less equipped to address the problems at the center of the crises mentioned above: finance and money. This is because critics of economic rhetoric have non-reflexively adopted the theories of mainstream economics, which view money as a “veil” and finance as the instrumentalization of sound economic principles. Whereas contemporary rhetorical studies of economic rhetoric remain constrained by the trained incapacities of orthodox economic theory, this dissertation consults an alternative economic theory literature in order to cut a new path for rhetorical critics interested in accounting for the roles of money and finance in contemporary political life.