Date of Award


Degree Name

Communication Studies


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Stephen D. Cooper

Second Advisor

Kristine L. Greenwood

Third Advisor

Stephen Underhill


This project examined the use of Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric, specifically the “Star Wars,” “Zero Option” and “Evil Empire” speeches. It answers the question: Why do we know SDI as Star Wars? It also The rationale for the study came from myriad sources, including the historical and political undertones of the Star Wars films and rhetorical criticism of other Reagan speeches. G. Thomas Goodnight’s analysis linked all three speeches together as a reformulation of wartime rhetoric, so that was the rationale for analyzing three speeches. After performing a rhetorical criticism using Burkean identification as the lens, there are several results: Reagan used narratives to build identification; evil empire as a connotation for the apocalypse; and most notably, Star Wars as an invention of Hollywood. Finally, this thesis prognosticates several conclusions, most notably how other politicians use popular culture as a method of identification.


Rhetoric -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.

Reagan, Ronald -- Rhetoric.