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Title:Telling the Soviet redemption story: Ronald Reagan’s changing Soviet rhetoric
Author(s):Lavoie, Mark W.
Director of Research:Murphy, John
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Murphy, John
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Gill, Pat; Finnegan, Cara; O'Gorman, Ned
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This dissertation examines Ronald Reagan’s changing Soviet rhetoric over the course of his presidency. Specifically, I argue that through the rhetorical analysis of eight of Reagan’s speeches, four from his first term and four from his second, we see how the President told a story of Soviet redemption. The first chapter of this extended rhetorical analysis is a justification of my claim, or a discussion of why Reagan’s Soviet rhetoric matters. The chapter also stands as a Cold War literature review that reveals how America understood itself as the world’s guardian against communist encroachment. The second chapter is concerned with Reagan’s pre-presidential Soviet rhetoric from his position as the Screen Actors Guild president through his failed presidential campaign run in 1976, and it establishes the decades-long pattern of anti-communist vitriol that Reagan brought to the White House. The third chapter is a rhetorical study of the Reagan’s concretized Soviet rhetoric that focuses on his use of historical narrative, characterizing the Soviet Union’s leaders as immoral and abhorrent, and the rhetoric of the Soviet Union’s inevitable fall. The fourth chapter examines how Reagan negotiated the shift from his antecedent Soviet rhetoric to a more conciliatory Soviet rhetoric, effectively recasting the USSR as a flawed but possibly redemptive character. The final chapter specifically looks at how Reagan’s Soviet redemption narrative emerged from his eight years as President of the United States and how that narrative might better help us understand Reagan as an orator.
Issue Date:2016-11-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Mark W. LaVoie
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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