The study examined how John F. Kennedy made use of the epideictic or ceremonial nature of his June 10, 1963, commencement address at American University to advocate for a new policy, the Limited Test Ban Treaty. In order to analyze how President Kennedy made use of epideictic themes in this address, the generic method of rhetorical criticism was employed. In all, this study concluded that as a commencement speaker, Kennedy made use of the epideictic nature of his address by employing what I call epideictic progression in four distinct ways; specifically, the President attempted to: (1) unite the audience behind the value of genuine peace; (2) shift the focus of praise and blame; (3) establish the U.S. as an exemplar of peace; and (4) lay the foundation for future action on civil rights.


Bostdorff, Denise


Communication Studies


Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


epideictic rhetoric, commencement address, presidential rhetoric, the cold war, epideictic progression, john f. kennedy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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