Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Committee Member

Sara VanderHaagen

Second Committee Member

Donovan Conley

Third Committee Member

Jacob Thompson

Fourth Committee Member

Brandon Manning

Number of Pages

124

Abstract

This thesis engages Bill Clinton’s presidential rhetoric to investigate how liberal rhetorical practices can be used to extend and sustain the oppression of Black Americans. By adopting Du Bois’ concepts of the color-line and double-consciousness this thesis examines how Bill Clinton was able to recreate the color-line in the Mason Temple speech and benefit from and recreate a world devoid of consciousness in other selected speeches from his corpus. This project takes up three separate speeches by Bill Clinton as texts. The second chapter focuses on Bill Clinton’s “Remarks to the Rainbow Coalition” and “Remarks announcing the initiative” to make the argument that based on the undue authority vested in Clinton as an unmarked identity he was given the jurisdiction to sacrifice marginalized, specifically Black, populations. The third chapter builds on the conversation about authority and sacrifice by focusing on how Bill Clinton’s Mason Temple speech recreated the color-line by using ideographs to define what Black people should do. This thesis concludes by engaging with Du Bois’ concept of double-consciousness to highlight how the debate between Forbes Hill and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell in the 1972 edition of the Quarterly Journal of Speech reveals that in the contemporary moment rhetorical critics need to evaluate speeches not only based on their argumentative strength but also their ethical implications.

Keywords

Bill Clinton; Color-Line; Du Bois; Ideographs; Race; Rhetoric

Disciplines

African American Studies | American Studies | Political Science | Race and Ethnicity | Rhetoric

Language

English


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