Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


A difference of opinion exists today among the many branches of knowledge as to what constitutes the proper study of mankind. Since it is not always expedient nor desirable to subject living persons to laboratory experiments, "models" have been devised to study man. For many years lower forms of life have been studied and the resulting data applied by means of analogy to the behavior of man. More recently, man has been compared to the various "input-output" systems of machines. However, to be applicable to human behavior such models or analogies must account for the fact that human beings create and use symbolic communication systems which are called languages.

The significance of this study lies in the observation that man is a social animal, differing from other animals in his ability to create and use language. Thus a proper study of mankind must give consideration to man's use of language in relation to his cultural and social environment. The most effective method yet devised by man for social control has been his persuasive use of language. Throughout recorded history man has used persuasive-language arts in discussion, debate, drama, and in religious ritual to convince his fellow man to follow his leadership. These "modes of persuasion" are the foundation for a rhetorical study.

Since the end of persuasion is said to be action, and persuasion through art is one of man's most useful tools for change, the statement of the American dramatist Edward Albee concerning his purpose in writing becomes germane:

"...when I write a play, I'm interested in changing the way people look at themselves and the way they look at life."

Since Albee's stated purpose is change, his discourse should be persuasive. Whether or not this is true is, as yet, one of the unanswered questions that this study has proposed for answer.



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