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Rhetorical approaches to the 2012 presidential campaign

Seminar Leaders:

Vanessa Beasley, Vanderbilt University
Shawn J. Parry-Giles, University of Maryland

This seminar is designed for scholars with an interest in the rhetorical nature of presidential campaigns and elections. With an emphasis on the discourse leading up the election of 2012 as our common text for workshop participants, we will explore the following questions: How does a rhetorical scholar examine campaign discourse differently than, say, a political scientist or a historian? From tweets to speeches, what constitutes a campaign text, and are all campaign texts equally worthy of scholarly inquiry? What are we to make of the role of new media and/or new exigencies within mainstream media? How, when, and why do various forms of rhetoric matter most in the election cycle? In exploring these questions and more, the purpose of this workshop will be three-fold: (1) to discuss the foundational literature within the rhetorical study of U.S. presidential elections (e.g., Jamieson, Gronbeck, Hart, etc.); (2) to update and augment this reading list with recent work on campaigns, including some scholarship on the impact of new media, and (3) to provide participants with conceptual and analytical tools useful to developing their own research programs. The structure of the workshop will reflect all of goals, allowing time for discussion of common readings as well as the presentation and peer critique of emergent projects. To meet this latter goal, participants will be expected to pre-circulate a precis (no more than 500 words) of their individual research programs/projects in relation to the workshop’s focus.

Questions should be directed to Vanessa Beasley at vanessa.b.beasley@Vanderbilt.Edu.


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