Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Marc C. Santos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ippokratis Kantzios, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.


Ancient Rhetoric, Epistemology, Ontology, Plato, Sophists


This thesis argues that the most prominent account of Protagoras in contemporary rhetorical scholarship, Edward Schiappa's Protagoras and Logos, loses critical historiographical objectivity in Platonic overdetermination of surviving historical artifacts. In the first chapter, I examine scholarship from the past thirty years to set a baseline for historiographical thought and argue that John Muckelbauer's conception of productive reading offers the best solution to the intellectual and discursive impasse in which contemporary Protagorean rhetorical theory currently resides. The second chapter explains the pitfalls of Platonic overdetermination and the ways in which Plato himself was inextricably situated within an ideological blinder, from which fair treatment of competing philosophical ideology becomes impossible. Finally, I argue for a historical Protagoras free of Platonic overdetermination by looking to Mario Untersteiner's 1954 Sophists. Untersteiner looks to Plato not for an accurate historical account, but for insight into why the great philosopher found the sophists to be such great perturbations. Rediscovering Protagoras through a Sophistic paradigm, I hope to open space for new, productive discourse on the first Sophist.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons