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

Taylor, Karen M. (2003) Identifying the Traitor Among Us:The Rhetoric of Espionage and Secrecy. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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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.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Taylor, Karen
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLyne, Johnlyne@pitt.eduLYNE
Committee MemberMcGuire, James Edwardjemcg@pitt.eduJEMCG
Committee MemberJunker,
Committee MemberOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.eduOLSON
Date: 11 December 2003
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 20 May 2003
Approval Date: 11 December 2003
Submission Date: 28 July 2003
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aldrich Ames; espionage; rhetoric; Robert Hanssen; WenHo Lee
Other ID:, etd-07282003-132723
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:47


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