Defining the Enemy in Post-9/11 Discourse: The Rhetorical Strategies of George W. Bush.


Jeff Zimmerman

Document Type


Publication Date



My research this summer has been concerned with the immediate after-affects of September eleventh, and how we got from the initial point of crisis and confusion to become engaged in war. Now that more than ten months have passed since the attacks, few people are as intrigued by terrorism because the terms of the war have been largely determined, many of the suspected terrorists have been rounded up, and the initial chapter of the post-nine-eleven era seems to have come to a close. We're certainly still very aware of the events of that tragic day, but the initial frenzy is over. Our relationship to the world is different because we have a newly-formed understanding of what terrorism means, and though the actors may change, we have a sense of who we are fighting in the 'war on terrorism.' This process has not been as organic as it may seem, and it has been the purpose of my research to examine the ways that the issues behind nine-eleven have been defined, framed, and manipulated to distinguish the enemy as different, irrational, and sub-human. I've used the speeches of George W. Bush as a barometer of the kinds of pressures that helped shape and mediate the complexities that these attacks posed to the nation, as he has had a crucial role in determining the manner in which nine-eleven is discussed.


R. Freer




Support provided by:Ford Research Fellowship

This document is currently not available here.