Identifying the Traitor Among Us: The Rhetoric of Espionage and Secrecy

by Taylor, Karen M.

Abstract (Summary)
Espionage as a communication phenomenon is investigated through three recent case studies. Emphasis is placed on understanding intelligence and espionage as communication, but more importantly the discourses surrounding the label of espionage. These discourses are paradoxical, in that the heart of the discourse remains secret. Discourses about espionage are clearly persuasive. Indeed, the topic of espionage is the most socially prominent way in which modern American society negotiates issues about what properly counts as a secret, and what counts as treason. Yet here is the rhetorical challenge: how can the discourse be persuasive when the evidence itself must remain a secret? The results suggest that, contrary to traditional rhetorical expectations about the importance of evidence for persuasion, in the context of espionage the suppression of evidence is advantageous for persuasion. Secrecy itself is what sells. The discursive absence is highlighted, which in turn invites particular reading strategies. Audience expectations are activated, and a paranoid reading of overdetermined cues is invoked.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Lester Olson; Kirk Junker; James Edward McGuire; Dr. John Lyne

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:communication rhetoric and


Date of Publication:12/11/2003

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