Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. James Ridolfo


This dissertation examines the way rhetorical performances of identity function within a social movement. Examining the University of Kentucky chapter of a campus activist organization, United Students Against Sweatshops, I argue that embodied performances of identity often leverage spectacle in disruptive ways and work not only to solidify activists’ identities as part of a social movement but ultimately help to create solidarity within the movement, thereby working toward movement objectives. Historically under-examined in social movement literature in the rhetoric and composition tradition, identity performance examples are taken from an oral history project and archival materials to show how identity is constructed and reinforced in ways that make it an important tool with which to achieve social movement goals.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)