Leroy G. Dorsey
- Areas of Speciality
- Rhetoric and Public Affairs
- BLTN 309E
- Professional Links
Dr. Dorsey’s research examines the symbols used by political figures to promote their legislative agendas, shape their identities as morally sound advocates, and transform their audiences into seemingly active agents poised to support particular agendas. Specifically, he studies the public discourse of presidents ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama, critiquing the means they use to lead rhetorically.
Dorsey’s work centers on how presidents rhetorically create American identity. Along with examining the rhetoric of chief executives such as Woodrow Wilson, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, Dorsey’s work most notably investigates the rhetoric of Theodore Roosevelt and how his use of mythic narratives attempted to reshape the notion of cultural identity. His book, We Are All Americans, Pure and Simple: Theodore Roosevelt and the Myth of Americanism, examined how Roosevelt used the frontier myth of national origin to create standards for non-whites and immigrants to achieve before they could be identified as Americans. That book won the 2008 National Communication Association Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for the top book in public address studies.
LBAR 181: Freshman Innovation Group Learning Community
COMM 340: Communication and Popular Culture
COMM 407: Women, Minorities & Mass Media
COMM 440: Political Communication
COMM 650: American Public Discourse Since 1865
- Leroy G. Dorsey, “Managing Women’s Equality: Theodore Roosevelt, the Frontier Myth, and the Modern Woman,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 16 (3): 423-456.
- Leroy G. Dorsey, “Narrating the Presidential ‘Race’: Barack Obama and the American Dream” in Communicating Marginalized Masculinities: Identity Politics in TV, Film, and New Media, Ronald L Jackson and Jamie Moshin, eds. (New York: Routledge Press, 2013), 144-158.
- Leroy G. Dorsey, “Sailing into the ‘Wondrous Now’: The Myth of the American Navy’s World Cruise,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 83 (4) 1997: 447-465.
- Leroy G. Dorsey, “Rereading The X-Files: The Trickster in Contemporary Conspiracy Myth,” Western Journal of Communication 66 (4) 2002: 448-468.
- Leroy G. Dorsey, “The Frontier Myth in Presidential Rhetoric: Theodore Roosevelt’s Campaign for Conservation,” Western Journal of Communication, 59 (1) 1995: 1-19.
Among Theodore Roosevelt’s many initiatives, one of the most important accomplishments was his effort to convince the nation that conserving the environment was crucial to its continued existence. Years of national tours, presidential edicts, and policy wrangling culminated in an unprecedented conference of governors at the White House in 1908. Leroy G. Dorsey explores the rhetorical power of Roosevelt’s address at this historic conservation summit, specifically examining how the president popularized the notion of conservation in the public consciousness.
The turn of the 20th century represented one of the most chaotic periods in the nation’s history, as immigrants, Native Americans, and African Americans struggled with their roles as Americans while white America feared their encroachments on national identity. Dorsey’s analysis illuminates how Roosevelt’s rhetoric achieved a number of delicate, if problematic, balancing acts. Roosevelt gave his audiences the opportunity to accept a national identity that allowed “some” room for immigrants and nonwhites, while reinforcing their status as others, thereby reassuring white Americans of their superior place in the nation.
Successful presidential leadership depends upon words as well as deeds. In this multifaceted look at rhetorical leadership, twelve leading scholars in three different disciplines provide in-depth studies of how words have served or disserved American presidents. At the heart of rhetorical leadership lies the classical concept of prudence, practical wisdom that combines good sense with good character. From their disparate treatments of a range of presidencies, an underlying agreement emerges among the historians, political scientists, and communication scholars included in the volume. To be effective, they find, presidents must be able to articulate the common good in a particular situation and they must be credible on the basis of their own character.