Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Craig T. Maier
Ronald C. Arnett
Janie Harden Fritz
Jimmy Carter, Presidential Rhetoric, Crisis of Confidence, Communication Ethics, Public Address, Civic Education
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.
Bondi, C. (2020). The Rhetoric of Jimmy Carter: Renewing America’s Confidence in Civic Leadership through Speech and Political Education (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1927