Was the torch passed? : a fantasy theme analysis of the presidential campaign rhetoric of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Robert Francis Kennedy

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Carlton, Rebecca L.
Jackson, Robert N.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Speech Communication
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The purpose of this study is to examine the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy in order to analyze the similarities and differences that exist in their campaigns and their rhetoric. Specifically, the study examines the primary campaign rhetoric of the candidates and determines the rhetorical vision and fantasy themes that are created in three speeches from each campaign. The following research questions are proposed: What are the differences and similarities between John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, in terms of their presidential rhetoric, their presidential campaigns, and their rhetorical visions? Does Robert Kennedy's rhetoric seem to be an extension of his brother's rhetoric or does it stand as his own?The study selects three speeches from each campaign as artifacts. The first speech by each candidate was the announcement of his candidacy. The second followed soon thereafter, before primary election results were a factor. The last speech reviewed in each campaign occurred after primary election results were announced, and the candidates had achieved success and failure in their campaigns.Fantasy theme analysis is employed to determine the fantasies that exist in the rhetoric and the rhetorical vision that is presented in each campaign. The analysis finds that each vision is comprised of four fantasy themes. The findings reveal that Robert Kennedy's rhetoric and rhetorical vision act as an entity separate from John Kennedy's, with unique goals and a different focus.