Master of Arts (MA)
First Committee Member
Thomas R. Burkholder
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Tara G. McManus
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
Commencement speakers are typically expected to praise students and motivate them. When the commencement speaker is a President, the expectation is different. This thesis investigated the functions of epideictic address in light of the rhetorical presidency doctrine. Close textual analysis of the three most controversial commencement speeches delivered by President Barack Obama revealed that the challenge of fulfilling the expectations of a commencement address, while responding to rhetorical problems, required the President to adopt complex rhetorical strategies. The predominant strategies included humor, strategic use of rhetorical presence, and ideological identification. The President used strategies that allowed him to be the embodiment of the ideologies most closely related to the audience. With those findings, this thesis proposes to refine the functions of presidential ceremonial rhetoric to a unique function: display leadership in order to enhance presidential ethos.
Baccalaureate addresses; Commencement addresses; Epideictic genre; Obama, Barack; Political oratory; Presidential rhetoric; Rhetorical criticism; Rhetorical presidency
Communication | Rhetoric | Speech and Rhetorical Studies
Ortega Ribeiro, Milene, "President Barack Obama and the Commencement of a New Perspective on Epideictic Speeches" (2013). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 1870.