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Urgent events require us to deviate from our initial plan in section two, inviting us to reflect on course material and connect it to contemporary examples of political rhetoric. For our second case study, we are examining how presidential address works to negotiate civics, values, knowledge, and identity in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.


We will be using sections of former President Trump’s press conferences about his administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, President Biden and Vice President Harris’ remarks about the rising tide of anti-AAPI violence in America, and media responses to those speeches as our second case study.

Watch/read the videos/documents posted on Canvas in Announcements/Artifacts for Case Study # 2. Then, answer the questions below. There is no minimum length, just make sure to provide a thorough answer.

1. What is the rhetorical context for this controversy? Identify at least two examples relevant rhetorical context.

What are some things happening at the time or in secondary artifact videos that help you determine the rhetorical context? Your examples can be aspects of the context generally, or one of the elements of Bitzer’s rhetorical situation – exigence, constraint, and/or audience.

2. How is language being used to shape the audience’s view of events? Identify at least one specific example of definition/naming/metaphor in each video.

How is language being used to negotiate values, establish a view of the situation, and/or recommend a course of action? To what extent are definitions/names used to assign praise or blame, to unify or divide, to generate urgency or give pause? How are words used to construct and/or enforce norms about appropriate civic practice? You may use examples from the Viala-Gaudefroy and Lindaman reading but you should include your own original examples from the videos as well.

3. Which rhetorical model best explains the relationship between President Trump’s rhetoric and the uptick of anti-AAPI violence in America during the pandemic?

Which theory of presidential rhetoric is most applicable to case study? The traditional model of presidential definition advanced by Zarefsky? Or the postmodern model of the presidency as pastiche developed by Heidt? Your answer should attend to the relative importance of the speaker/audience in constructing/negotiating the meaning of presidential public address. You should also provide specific examples from the videos to support any claims about the “effects” of presidential definitions or the “atomization”/”circulation” of presidential address.

4. How do racialized/gendered norms implicate the Biden Administration’s response to hate crimes targeting members of the AAPI community?

To what extend did the order/content of the speeches delivered by the President and Vice President transgress gendered norms associated with the office? In what ways did the media response to these speeches illustrate the racialized construction of the presidency?

5. Evaluate the quality:

Choose either the Trump Administration or the Biden Administration, and based on your answers to questions 1-4, make an initial evaluation of the quality of the rhetoric. Was this an effective response to the rhetorical context? Why or why not?

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