An assessment of Jimmy Swaggart's responses to ABC's WBRZ documentary from the perspective of the "rhetorical situation".

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/184556
Title:
An assessment of Jimmy Swaggart's responses to ABC's WBRZ documentary from the perspective of the "rhetorical situation".
Author:
Cox, Ervin Samuel.
Issue Date:
1988
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Jimmy Swaggart's ordeal in 1983 provides the focus for this research. WBRZ's documentary and Swaggart's interview, hour-long video, and full-page newspaper replies are examined from the perspective of Lloyd Bitzer's "Rhetorical Situation." The degree to which Swaggart's responses were "fitting" is determined and insights regarding Bitzer's theory are provided. Reporter John Camp's program, "Give Me That Big Time Religion," was aired in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Thursday, May 19, 1983. Analysis of this documentary reveals that Swaggart stood charged with "Being in Business for the Money;" "Being Corrupt;" "Being a Manipulator;" "Being Too Political;" and "Being Big-Time Rather Than Old-Time Religion." Examination of Swaggart's replies corroborates that he perceived these charges to be exigencies he must address. Swaggart's discourses demonstrate that the perception of his "Being Anti-Catholic" also needed resolution. Bitzer's criteria for assessment of the appropriateness of Swaggart's replies include: the existence of genuine exigencies; the presence of a capable audience; reliance upon embedded constraints and interests; and the function of the discourse as a means or motivation for actual or probable alteration. This study concludes that Swaggart provided his audience with generalized explanations which would make sense. However, when specific replies to particular charges are assessed, Swaggart did not fare so well. In particular, Swaggart inadequately addressed the issues of his family getting rich, his accountability regarding the Children's Fund, that he often is corrupt, and that he manipulates others for money. Furthermore, this paper argues that Bitzer's "Rhetorical Situation" does not reveal more about the critic than the rhetoric; that meaning can be discovered as well as created; that rhetoric can be an effect not just a cause; and, that ethical responsibility of a rhetor is not removed due to the compulsion of "situation." Suggestions for future research include: examination of the discussion and debate concerning televangelism using Bitzer's approach; Swaggart's situation in 1983 as an ideal test case for the genre of apologia; and, a comparison of Swaggart's 1983 ordeal with that in 1988.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Swaggart, Jimmy.; Television in religion -- Louisiana.; Rhetoric -- Philosophy.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Communication; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Ewbank, Henry L.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleAn assessment of Jimmy Swaggart's responses to ABC's WBRZ documentary from the perspective of the "rhetorical situation".en_US
dc.creatorCox, Ervin Samuel.en_US
dc.contributor.authorCox, Ervin Samuel.en_US
dc.date.issued1988en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractJimmy Swaggart's ordeal in 1983 provides the focus for this research. WBRZ's documentary and Swaggart's interview, hour-long video, and full-page newspaper replies are examined from the perspective of Lloyd Bitzer's "Rhetorical Situation." The degree to which Swaggart's responses were "fitting" is determined and insights regarding Bitzer's theory are provided. Reporter John Camp's program, "Give Me That Big Time Religion," was aired in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Thursday, May 19, 1983. Analysis of this documentary reveals that Swaggart stood charged with "Being in Business for the Money;" "Being Corrupt;" "Being a Manipulator;" "Being Too Political;" and "Being Big-Time Rather Than Old-Time Religion." Examination of Swaggart's replies corroborates that he perceived these charges to be exigencies he must address. Swaggart's discourses demonstrate that the perception of his "Being Anti-Catholic" also needed resolution. Bitzer's criteria for assessment of the appropriateness of Swaggart's replies include: the existence of genuine exigencies; the presence of a capable audience; reliance upon embedded constraints and interests; and the function of the discourse as a means or motivation for actual or probable alteration. This study concludes that Swaggart provided his audience with generalized explanations which would make sense. However, when specific replies to particular charges are assessed, Swaggart did not fare so well. In particular, Swaggart inadequately addressed the issues of his family getting rich, his accountability regarding the Children's Fund, that he often is corrupt, and that he manipulates others for money. Furthermore, this paper argues that Bitzer's "Rhetorical Situation" does not reveal more about the critic than the rhetoric; that meaning can be discovered as well as created; that rhetoric can be an effect not just a cause; and, that ethical responsibility of a rhetor is not removed due to the compulsion of "situation." Suggestions for future research include: examination of the discussion and debate concerning televangelism using Bitzer's approach; Swaggart's situation in 1983 as an ideal test case for the genre of apologia; and, a comparison of Swaggart's 1983 ordeal with that in 1988.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectSwaggart, Jimmy.en_US
dc.subjectTelevision in religion -- Louisiana.en_US
dc.subjectRhetoric -- Philosophy.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineCommunicationen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorEwbank, Henry L.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBurgoon, Michaelen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBailey, Williamen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBurgoon, Judeeen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWilliams, Daviden_US
dc.identifier.proquest8905911en_US
dc.identifier.oclc701551626en_US
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