“The Power of Speech: How Does Rhetoric Shapes Institutional Actors?”

  • Committee Co-Chairs: Dr. Michael P. Fix and Dr. Robert Howard

  • Committee Member: Dr. Amy Steigerwalt


“Speech is power: Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. Is is to bring another out of his bad sense into your good sense.” 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~


Status: Currently my dissertation is in the prospectus development stage.  Working alongside my committee, I expect to defend my prospectus in May of 2018.


The goal of this project is to better understand how rhetoric shapes the work of political actors. Broadly, I proposes that the rhetoric individual actors use is shaped by their power or position within the institution (i.e. a senator or a federal judge) , their ultimate career goals or motivations, and the parameters or institutional constraints/situations in which they can speak (i.e. judges during oral arguments or senators during committee hearings). My goal with this project is to analyze various forms of political rhetoric via content analysis to create a typology of rhetorical styles used by various political actors. Using these profiles, I want to compare behavior of actors within similar institutional contexts. Is the rhetoric/speech used in these various contexts (oral arguments, committee hearings, etc.) the same despite expecting institutional differences between the various branches of governments? Finally, this project will look at what effect rhetoric has on coalition building and other strategic behaviors in various government bodies.



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