Eisenhower and the American sublime

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This essay presents Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential rhetoric as an iteration of an American synecdochal sublime. Eisenhower's rhetoric sought to re-aim civic sight beyond corporeal objects to the nation's transcendental essence. This rhetoric is intimately connected to prevailing political anxieties and exigencies, especially the problem of "the Bomb" and the related philosophy of deterrence. Over and against the material presence of the atomic bomb, which threatened to concentrate national energies, Eisenhower advanced an expansive vision of national "spiritual" being to which corporeal images could only gesture. Correlatively, he positioned himself as a kind of priestly mediator. Therefore, he not only justified a strong deterrent stance in the Cold War, but made moral sense of it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-72
Number of pages29
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008


  • Civil Religion
  • Cold War
  • Eisenhower
  • Sublime
  • Synecdoche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education

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