Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Winter 12-6-2017

Major Department or Program

Rhetoric Studies


Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes, Dr. Matthew Bost


Kalief Browder, an African American incarcerated at Rikers Island for three years, spent most of his imprisonment in solitary confinement. Less than a year after his release, Browder took his own life. In this thesis, I argue that Browder’s case illuminates the ways that first person narratives of solitary confinement provide insights into the duality of self that occurs in solitary confinement, and how that duality of self remains a part of the formerly incarcerated self even after release. Looking at Browder’s post-release discourse, I identify changes in tense and the use of the third person. By identifying these rhetorical tactics, we can in turn identify ontological disruptions of time that occur for individuals who have served time in solitary confinement. Browder’s case points to the ways that these ontological disruptions in time infect the post-release lives of formerly incarcerated individuals, often with devastating consequences. These ontological disruptions of time reveal new ways we can understand the violence of solitary confinement. As such, I argue that the U.S. carceral state should abandon the use of solitary all together.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Solitary confinement -- Moral and ethical aspects‚ Solitary confinement -- Psychological aspects‚ Violence‚ Rhetoric‚ Imprisonment‚ Inmates of institutions -- Abuse of‚ Inmates of institutions -- Kalief Browder‚ Suicide‚ Prisoners‚ Correctional institutions -- United States‚ Correctional personnel‚ Abuse of administrative power‚ Denial of justice‚ Racial profiling in law enforcement‚ Race discrimination‚ African Americans -- Civil rights‚ African Americans -- Social conditions‚ Rikers Island (N.Y.)‚ Whitman College 2018 -- Dissertation collection -- Rhetoric Studies

Permanent URL

Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

Included in

Rhetoric Commons



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).