Building character through metaphor and ideology : a rhetorical examination of John F. Kennedy's use of metaphor to combat the religious issue in 1960 Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6682x827f

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  • On September 12th 1960, just two months prior to one of the closest Presidential elections in American history, John F. Kennedy faced the Houston Ministerial Association and delivered a powerful speech on religion and Americanism. The "religious issue" of the 1960 campaign drew immense interest and trumped other issues pertinent to the campaign. The speech came on the heels of the dissemination of abundant anti-Catholic literature throughout the United States, as well as statements by two prominent religious groups attacking Kennedy's candidacy directly. Kennedy's speech helped to alter views of him as an outsider with alien beliefs, to a true American seeking to lead from a position based on Constitutional principles and traditional Americanism. This thesis analyzes the rhetorical strategies used by Kennedy to alter perceptions of his character. Employing an interdisciplinary approach that concerns rhetorical strategies in political discourse, this thesis utilizes Edwin Black's conception of metaphor and ideology in conjunction with Kenneth Burke's theory of substance. The analysis shows that Kennedy's use of metaphor expressed a familial-based ideology that helped him to identify with audience members and overcome negative perceptions. The findings of this study suggest that the use of metaphor and ideology have powerful implications for building and expressing good character.
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