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Traditional Research


Heather Holland: Songs of Hope and Change: Popular Music as Rhetoric in Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign”

This study looks at the lyrics and music of popular songs that were used frequently during the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama. A rhetorical perspective is used to examine how the songs contribute to overarching themes and metaphors in the campaign. The lyrics and musical score of Obama’s two main campaign songs – U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” – are analyzed in-depth. Both songs express an overall metaphor of an optimistic, future-oriented outlook that connects with the overarching messages and metaphorical themes found in Obama’s campaign. Heather’s analysis of the Obama campaign songs revealed that the overall political metaphors in the campaign are supported by the future-oriented, optimistic songs chosen to play before and after Obama’s speeches at rallies.

Heather noted, “In my senior inquiry project, I got to join in the scholarly conversation of political rhetorical studies during an exciting moment – the 2008 election – and I even presented my paper at the Central States Communication Association Convention in the spring. I brought together several of my interests – rhetorical analysis, political communication, and music – in a project that utilized my researching, writing, and speaking skills.”

John Jordan: Dialectical Management in the Workplace

Organizations and the individual who work within them experience ongoing tensions between competitiveness and cooperation. In order for the organization to be successful, individuals must compete with each other, moving the individual towards feelings of closedness. At the same time, the organization must also create a cooperative environment of connectness and openness. This paper asks how an organization and the individuals within it deal with the competition/cooperation dynamic. Based on previous researchc in relational dialectics, dialectical management, and competition/cooperation within organizations, I hypothesized that on both an organizational and personal level, the competitive/cooperative tension would be successfully managed using Baxter's (1988) four responses to dialectical tensions: cyclic alternation, segmentation, selection, and integration. To understand this tension, 20 journal entries were made by thirteen employees and a competitive mid-sized health care company and addressed feelings of competition and cooperation in their workday. A thematic analysis was used to uncover patterns of dialectical management.

John says, "Selecting a topic you're passionate about and working with good people makes all the difference!"