President George W. Bush, Presidential Rhetoric and Constructions of Otherness, Post 9/11

  • Paula Dalziel

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis analyses the rhetoric which President George W. Bush used to meet the demands resulting from the atrocities of 9/11, during the immediate aftermath and in days and weeks following those atrocities. Bush’s presidential rhetoric was far more than just words it was an entire performance, and it is that performance and the people behind the construction and dissemination of the language and performance with which this thesis is interested. This research adds knowledge to the field of presidential rhetoric by adopting the analytical approach of a rhetorical critic to scrutinize Bush’s post 9/11 rhetoric. The analysis reveals a sophisticated interpretation of the various levels of meaning available to the American public and the wider audience given the social and cultural period in which the atrocities and rhetoric transpired. The same analytical approach is utilized to distinguish previous presidential rhetoric after unique attacks with that of Bush post 9/11. This delivers a nuanced understanding of the influence of the media, speechwriters, presidential personality and the historical period in the formation and presentation of presidential rhetoric. This is achieved by scrutinizing the events (‘rhetorical situations’ (Bitzer, 1968)) including the sinking of the Lusitania, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the xii Iran hostage siege and comparing and contrasting these to 9/11 and Bush’s response to the demands of that situation. The thesis characterizes and analyses the way presidential rhetoric incorporated the ‘rhetoric of otherness’ (Otto, 1973) through religious myths to delineate the boundaries for the American public to gain an understanding of why the attacks occurred and how they needed to respond. This may be referred to as the patriotic discourse.
Date of Award1 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University


  • George W Bush
  • Politics
  • Social Policy

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