Dog-Whistle Rhetoric: Pedagogy and the Coded Language of Modern American Politics

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Literature and Languages

Date of Award

Summer 2014


Dog-Whistle' Rhetoric: Pedagogy and Coded Language in Modern American Politics," is a historical examination of the role of divisive political rhetoric in modern American politics. This dissertation focuses specifically on the speeches of transformative politicians over the past fifty years, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. This research assigns codes based on four categories, Religion/Values, Race, Class/Economics, and Freedom/Patriotism and examines the coded language used in political rhetoric that seeks to mask a divisive political agenda. This dissertation offers first-year writing teachers a framework through which to teach their students about coded political language through the lens of Critical Pedagogy, in aid of encouraging students to be more actively engaged in the political and economic life around them.


Tabetha Adkins

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Rhetoric and Composition