Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Rhetoric and Professional Communication

First Advisor

Abby M. Dubisar


Scholars who have embraced the social (Berlin, 1988) and the global (Hesford, 2006) turns in rhetoric and composition are seeking comparative-historical frames for understanding how communication mediates social roles within sites of conflict. Since the publication of Millennials Rising: The Next Generation, it is my observation that communication about Millennials is a significant site of conflict in the United States. While scholars in rhetoric have explored how age bias affects non-traditional students who enter college later in adulthood (Bowen, 2011; Crow, 2006; Grabill and Pigg, 2012; Swacha, 2017), I am curious about age bias against the young, where scholars and professionals are using communication to construct knowledge about their relationship to Millennials in academic and professional contexts. From this curiosity, four questions inspired my dissertation: 1) How are Millennials discussed in academic and professional contexts? 2) How does millennial function rhetorically in business contexts and in rhetoric and composition? 3) What methods can be devised to examine and compare communications about generational differences? 4) How do Millennials define themselves? In this dissertation I seek answers to these questions.

I first discuss how generations are named in the United States, and show that stereotypes exist in academic and professional contexts that marginalize Millennials. I then use the rhetorical concepts of myth and identity to examine corpora of texts in an effort to build a comparative-historical frame for understanding how millennial functions rhetorically as an intersection of age. This work is important, I argue, because while scholars have done much work examining conflict with regard to sex, gender, race, and ability, scholars have not sufficiently engaged how students’ age can marginalize the young while privileging earlier generations. I conclude by imagining how myth and identity can comprise a method for examining inter-generational conflict in the composition classroom.


Copyright Owner

Bryan Alan Lutz



File Format


File Size

228 pages