English Ph.D. Dissertations


Rhetorical Inquiry: Feminist Argumentative Modes and Expectations in Detective Fiction

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Catherine Cassara (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)


This dissertation reports my study of knowledge making practices used by characters in two forms of popular detective entertainment media: The popular FOX television series Bones, featuring a team of forensic scientists and FBI agents who solve crimes together, and Agatha Christie’s popular detective novel 4:50 from Paddington, featuring the elderly Ms. Jane Marple, who works with her friends and the police to solve a murder. Using the three “ways of knowing” described in Belenky et al’s Women’s Ways of Knowing as heuristic analytical lenses, I perform content analyses on six episodes of the Bones series and the entire 4:50 from Paddington novel to determine how the main characters in each of these popular media create knowledge on their own and with others to solve crimes. I situate my content analysis findings within recent discussions of feminist theory and pedagogical practice to argue that the process of my study, its emphasis on popular media forms, and my findings can contribute to the broader disciplinary understanding of knowledge making within rhetoric and composition as a field of study.