Defense Date

5-1-2020

Graduation Date

Winter 12-18-2020

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Craig T. Maier

Committee Member

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Keywords

Jimmy Carter, Presidential Rhetoric, Crisis of Confidence, Communication Ethics, Public Address, Civic Education

Abstract

July 15, 2019 marked the fortieth anniversary of President Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech, a catalyst for what became an often overlooked yet significant turning point in the nation’s history. Carter’s words were both poignant and pointed as he calmly, yet directly, addressed the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and engagement in narcissistic practices that led to a coveting of material goods. In an examination of the events that shaped this historical moment, this dissertation contends that, despite President Carter’s attempt to steer America in a more environmentally and socially conscious direction, the nation instead acquiesced to Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric of American exceptionalism. Carter’s rhetoric, his ethos, and his leadership during the crisis provide exemplars for how we might navigate our current crisis of higher education within communication and the humanities. In Carter, we can find a glimmer of hope that we might restore our confidence in civic leadership, public speaking, and political education, and influence college and university students to engage in meaningful, ethical work inside the political theater.

Language

English

Included in

Rhetoric Commons

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