October 29, 2010
Denise Bostdorff, professor of communication studies at The College of Wooster, will receive the Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award next month at the National Communication Association annual meeting in San Francisco.
WOOSTER, Ohio — Denise Bostdorff, professor of communication studies at The College of Wooster and author of Proclaiming the Truman Doctrine: The Cold War Call to Arms, will receive the Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award next month (Nov. 14-17) at the National Communication Association annual meeting in San Francisco.
The award, which is presented to the author of the best political communication work of the past
two years, honors Bruce Gronbeck, professor emeritus from the University of Iowa, whose broad range of interests encompasses both political rhetoric and how that rhetoric works through new technologies.
Bostdorff decided to write the book after learning that Texas A&M University Press was planning a series on Presidential speeches that had proven to be the most significant in U.S. history. The editor approached her about possible topics, and Bostdorff chose to write about the Truman Doctrine. “This is the topic that grabbed my attention,” said Bostdorff. “In many ways when you look at the Truman Doctrine you see how policy set there and the kinds of arguments and language that are used there continue to be reflected in American Presidential foreign policy rhetoric even today.”
Bostdorff was nominated for the award by one of the reviewers of her book. A committee of scholars in the area of political communication read all of the letters of nomination and then read all of the books. Bostdorff said that having been on similar committees, she can empathize with the amount of work the process entails.
When asked what makes her book different from the other texts about the Truman Doctrine, Bostdorff said that her analysis is the only book-length examination of the speech and uses archival research — including recently released documents — to resolve authorship issues that have lingered over the years. She added that she was also fortunate to be able to interview George
Elsey, one of the administration members involved in the writing of the speech. In addition, Bostdorff’s volume examines the multiple levels on which the address served to persuade, including in ways that its authors did not intend. “I look a lot at how so much of the Truman Doctrine speech and the Truman Doctrine policy really emanated from the state department and its focus on public
affairs work at the time,” she said. The importance of this, according to Bostdorff, is that as the state department developed a way to present the policy to the American people it also shaped what the policy was.
Bostdorff, a member of Wooster’s faculty since 1994, specializes in political rhetoric, particularly presidential foreign policy rhetoric on crises and war. Her research includes such topics as the 2008 presidential candidates' rhetoric on the Iraq War; President Bush’s post-September 11 and Iraq War rhetoric, particularly his use of ceremonial discourse to bolster support for his foreign policy; the foreign crisis rhetoric of Kennedy through George W. Bush; and
Nixon’s policy reversal rhetoric on China>
A graduate of Bowling Green State University (1982), Bostdorff earned her M.A. at The University of Illinois (1983) and her Ph.D. at Purdue University (1987). In addition to her book about the Truman Doctrine speech, Bostdorff is the author of The Presidency and the Rhetoric of Foreign Crisis, and a number of scholarly articles and book chapters. She is a member of the National Communication Association, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the Central States Communication Association. She received the B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Article Award from the Western States Communication Association in 1992 and the National Speakers Association's Outstanding Communication Professor Award in 2000. In 2003-2004,
she chaired a national task force on the presidency in times of crisis.
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