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Discursive Construction of Post-9/11 American National Identity: United by “the Enemy”

Date

2014-10-14

Authors

Parker, Robin A.

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Abstract

National identity derives from a sense of sameness and cohesion; however, scholars across fields accept the nation as an “imagined community” and that national identity changes. In this thesis, I conduct a Critical Discourse Analysis of political speeches and informal interviews to investigate the post-9/11 discursive construction of American national identity. With a theoretical backing in social constructionism and Norman Fairclough’s articulation of CDA, I focused on lexico-grammatical features and intertextuality and interdiscursivity. Taking head from Ruth Wodak’s study of Austrian national identity, I also analyzed my corpus for constructive strategies of assimilation. Although many discourses contribute to the construction of national identity, the post-9/11 discourse overtly addresses what it means to be American and constructs a stark “other” in the form of terrorism. This study finds that while citizens criticize politics, their sense of “sameness” becomes most concrete when faced with a threat or opposition in the form of terrorism, or when discussing Muslims not associated with terrorism.

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Keywords

National identity, Critical discourse analysis, Post-9/11 rhetoric, Social constructionism, American national identity

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