The Politics of Rhetoric: Reagan’s Rhetorical War on Nicaragua

Senior Capstone Experience by Victoria Cline ’19

Submitted to the Department of English and Department of Political Science

Advised by Dr. Sean Meehan and Dr. Christine Wade

Description: “This thesis explores the linkage between Reagan’s foreign policy toward Nicaragua and the rhetorical patterns he used to communicate this policy in public addresses during the years 1983-1988 including State of the Union, Joint Session, television and radio addresses surrounding the topic of the Contra versus Sandinista Nicaraguan conflict.”

Abstract: “This paper evaluates President Reagan’s use of rhetorical devices to strategically frame his Nicaraguan policy in an attempt to persuade Congress to fund his Contra aid packages. The significance of analyzing political rhetoric stems from presidents dependence on deliberative oratory to communicate their policy to a given audience. This paper employs rhetorical analysis to identify the main patterns of political rhetoric in Reagan’s public addresses on the Nicaraguan conflict. The result of this analysis was that Reagan’s rhetoric framed the political debate surrounding his Nicaraguan policy using negative direction, emphasis on proximity, definition and comparison.”

Read Victoria’s SCE below:

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