Barack Obama and the Rhetoric of Hope


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About the Book

The historical and literary antecedents of the President’s campaign rhetoric can be traced to the utopian traditions of the Western world. The “rhetoric of hope” is a form of political discourse characterized by a forward-looking vision of social progress brought about by collective effort and adherence to shared values (including discipline, temperance, a strong work ethic, self-reliance and service to the community).
By combining his own personal story (as the biracial son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya) with national mythologies like the American Dream, Obama creates a persona that embodies the moral values and cultural mythos of his implied audience. In doing so, he draws upon the Classical world, Judeo-Christianity, the European Enlightenment, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the presidencies of Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR, slave narratives, the Black church, the civil rights movement and even popular culture.

About the Author(s)

Mark S. Ferrara is an assistant professor of English at SUNY Oneonta, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Mark S. Ferrara
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6793-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0339-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Preface 11

Introduction: Idealism and the American Mind 13

One—Judeo-Christianity and the Rational Utopia 21

Two—American Founding Documents 33

Three—Slave Narratives, the Black Church and Civil Rights 46

Four—The Legacy of Three Great Presidents 62

Five—The Force of Fiction, Music and Popular Culture 86

Six—Values and the Content of Character 107

Seven—Constructing the Narrative Persona 124

Eight—Universalism, Globalization and the Multicultural Utopia 139

Nine—Rhetoric and the Presidency 153

Ten—The 2012 Campaign 167

Chapter Notes 189

Selected Bibliography 197

Index 201

Book Reviews & Awards

“well-written…thorough examination…recommended”—Choice.