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Controversial narratives: Ambiguity and multiple interpretations of the rhetoric of masculinity in Promise Keepers' discourse

Dana Bruce Creed, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Through an analysis of the narrative discourse of Promise Keepers, the rhetorical functions of controversy are revealed. Focusing on the contours of conflict and controversy between Promise Keepers and the National Organization for Women, this project has evaluated Promise Keepers narrative discourse. The Promise Keepers narrative, a version of the Protestant narrative influenced by myth, muscular Christianity, and feminist opposition, is made ambiguous as it is refracted through different audiences. What has been revealed through an analysis of these competing narratives is a controversy that functions to propel arguments about sex roles into the public sphere, where a critical public evaluates them. Promise Keepers' narrative discourse is seen as an attempt to rhetorically refashion the masculine sex role for a Christian society that has been exposed to feminist values. ^ The investigation of Promise Keepers' rhetoric has provided insight into the theological and moral aspects of the current controversy over femininity and masculinity. The questions of theoretical interest were (1) what is the role and function of controversy in the public sphere; (2) how do ambiguity and myth function in PK narratives; (3) how does the PK narrative generate multiple interpretations, and is this a function of ambiguity; (4) what are the implications of the multiple meanings generated; and (5) how do multiple meanings engender controversy? ^

Subject Area

Religion, General|Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Sociology, Social Structure and Development

Recommended Citation

Creed, Dana Bruce, "Controversial narratives: Ambiguity and multiple interpretations of the rhetoric of masculinity in Promise Keepers' discourse" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3028654.