Award Date

5-1-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication

First Committee Member

Thomas R. Burkholder

Second Committee Member

David Henry

Third Committee Member

Jacob D. Thompson

Fourth Committee Member

Helen R. Neill

Number of Pages

150

Abstract

Epideictic or ceremonial rhetoric, in its most basic and essential function, praises or blames an object. Ceremonial speakers seek to articulate why those particular objects are worthy of honor or the reverse. In the unfortunate event of a national tragedy, citizens may be confused or troubled, presenting the need for clarification and reassurance. Often times, concrete political solutions do not satisfy these needs because they do not explain what has occurred in terms the public can understand and proceed from. Presidents often inject memories of the past into public address to define these troubling situations in ways that broad, national audiences can make sense of them. It is important to identify the socio-political and cultural institutions that presidents rely on when they engage in epideictic rhetoric so that critics can have a more articulate explanation of why society defines itself the way it does and how future events are likely to be shaped. Close textual analysis of Barack Obama's September 12, 2012 Rose Garden Address and the second presidential debate with Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney revealed that the public memory of September 11 has become commonplace in ceremonial discourse as a way to explain to citizens the magnitude of contemporary troubling events. September 11, 2001 has become ingrained in the collective memory of U.S. citizens to such a degree that it inescapably serves as the backdrop before which we tend to view all events even remotely related to terrorism. Each of the texts analyzed in this thesis provide ample opportunity to draw new conclusions about this phenomenon. The Rose Garden Address illustrates howcrisis rhetoricandeulogiesare strategically utilized by presidents to refine our sense of community and urge perseverance in the face of threats to its stability. Analyzing the town hall debate provides insight on the rhetorical strategies ofcampaign orationsand how they influence the degree to which the public becomes ingratiated by presidential candidates. Given those analytical devices, this thesis proposes to refine the functions of presidential epideictic rhetoric by updating them to reflect how presidents enhance theirethosin contemporary rhetorical situations

Keywords

Benghazi Consulate Attack (Banghāzī, Libya : 2012); Crisis management--Political aspects; English language—Rhetoric; Obama, Barack; Rhetoric--Political aspects; September 11 Terrorist Attacks (2001)

Disciplines

American Politics | Communication | Mass Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies

Language

English


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