Political Apology in the Discursive Construction of Hurricane Katrina

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Title: Political Apology in the Discursive Construction of Hurricane Katrina
Author: Shelton, Cecilia D.
Advisors: Agnes Bolonyai, Committee Chair
Walt Wolfram, Committee Member
Jeffrey Reaser, Committee Member
Abstract: With the recent events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the United States saw a natural disaster turn into a national disaster as the storm devastated the American citizens of the Gulf Coast region. The discourse regarding Hurricane Katrina is uniquely characterized by its political component whose primary topical focus was the responsibility. In response to widespread public unrest and complaint, many politicians issued apologies regarding the government response to Hurricane Katrina. This study will examine the theme of responsibility through analysis of the complaint-apology adjacency pair; that is, the complaints voiced by citizens and the apologies offered by two key political figures in Katrina's political discourse—Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans, LA and George W. Bush, President of the United States. Specifically, I will use the notions of framing, voice and intertextuality to determine how discourse participants present other relevant voices and how those participants represent their own voices the dialogical negotiation of responsibility. I intend to compare and contrast how these two participants manage the acceptance of responsibility in order to understand the significance of their distinct discursive voices and perspectives. Analysis of the complaint-apology discourse structure should reveal how varying personal and public perspectives of political discourse participants affected their participation in the political discourse about Hurricane Katrina. This analysis demonstrates the importance of voice and dialogicality in the discursive construction of apology. Moreover, it suggests that researchers who are beginning to investigate political apology take into account factors that could influence variation in voices participating in that discourse which could, in turn produce variation in the forms of political apology and how it is managed pragmatically.
Date: 2007-08-06
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2571

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