Date of Award
Master of Arts
On September 11, 2001, two planes flew into The World Trade Center, killing an estimated 2,800-3,025 global citizens. Prominent leaders, the press, and the public discourse surrounding the event all played a significant role in shaping how people know and understand it today. Since this watershed moment, a significant amount of research has focused on political leaders' war rhetoric, drawing parallels between the rhetoric of America's most recent War on Terror to the war rhetorics of former political leaders, most notably Hitler. Many studies exclusively deconstruct the strategies that leaders employ to create an enemy by means of Othering (Merskin, 2004; Graham, Keenan & Dowd, 2004). While such deconstructions elucidate certain aspects of war rhetoric, they are characteristically limited in scope, focusing on a single facet such as binary constructs, including an "us" versus "them" mentality. However insightful, Othering does not account for political leaders' motives or the scenes in which leaders act or react, nor does Othering individually siphon out all of the "terms" leaders employ to make war appear well intentioned, purposeful, and good. Furthermore, studies that construct the enemy as Other often only draw comparisons with past war rhetorics, excluding discussions about the current Other's actions and reactions to war (Merskin, 2004; Graham, Keenan & Dowd, 2004). Finally, also omitted from the discussions of this war's rhetorics are alternative and silenced rhetorics. In an attempt to bring further understanding to rhetorics of war, in this thesis, I utilize Kenneth Burke's dramatistic approach along with feminist rhetorical criticism to examine the "terror[ism] rhetoric" in the speeches of three leaders: George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, and Benazir Bhutto.
Amanda Jean Klimesh
Klimesh, Amanda Jean, "Terror Rhetoric: Deconstructing Dominant and Alternative Realities" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11662.