Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Stephen Olbrys Gencarella
Christian Reconstruction, Constitutive Rhetoric, multi-method, multi-sited ethnography, Religious movement/religion, Visual Rhetoric
This dissertation investigates the rhetorical constitution of a religio-political social collective which has come to be understood as Christian Reconstruction (CR). CR is guided by conservative Calvinism (Reformed theology) and upholds the ideas of theonomy, postmillennialism, and presuppositional apologetics. Some of the leaders associated with CR are R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Gary DeMar of American Vision and Doug Phillips of Vision Forum. A few of its key practices are homeschooling, the father ‘returning home,’ and having as many children ‘as God will allow,’ (a vision aligned with the Quiverfull movement). It is primarily a national movement within the United States, not limited to a singular geographical location or denomination. This study provides a comprehensive overview of CR, illustrating how the grammars of CR are animated, embodied, and upheld in peoples’ lives and practices. Through the observation of conferences and events, and the collection and examination of media materials, this analysis takes a constructivist approach to piecing together the discursive fragments that constitute CR. CR grammar is richly embedded in a web of interaction, media, technology, images, bodily adornment, performance, music, games, and consumer culture. My theoretical framework utilizes the work of critical cultural theorists (Gramsci, 1971; Butler, 1990; Hall, 1976, Laclau, 2005) in combination with theories of constitutive (Burke, 1950; Charland, 1987; McGee, 1975) and visual rhetoric and display (Olson, Finnegan & Hope, 2008; Prelli, 2006; Selzer & Crowley, 1999) to examine the types of social, cultural, and political subjectivities, practices and institutions that are constituted within the CR community. It focuses primarily on the patriarchal identities within CR families as well as the focus on nationalistic teaching about Christian American history as methods for changing the culture of America. I consider the hegemonic machinations of CR grammars in constituting these identities. Finally, this study makes available a methodology and method for the study of dispersed “peoples” and their discursive lives. I demonstrate that multi-sited ethnography, combined with the theories of constitutive and visual rhetorics and critical cultural studies provides a systematic heuristic with which to inquire into a people, its culture, activities, identities, and how they constitute themselves.
Brook, Joanna L., "Reclaiming America for Christian Reconstruction: The Rhetorical Constitution of a "People"" (2011). Open Access Dissertations. Paper 424.