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Les mythes nationaux dans les discours présidentiels américains post-guerre froide de George H. Bush à Barack Obama

Abstract : Nations are based on myths, and in the United States, it is the president who is the “storyteller-in-chief” of those sacred stories whose function is to give sense to the existence of the national community. This dissertation offers to examine to what extent the end of the Cold War, which represents a breaking point in the mental representation of the nation, has produced a new discourse in national mythology in presidential speeches. Our research will focus more specifically on the notion that metaphors inform us on the shared beliefs of a given society as cognitive linguistics and critical discourse analysis have largely demonstrated. In our first part, we will concentrate on the myths of virtue and good, and more particularly on the use of religious language which has greatly increased over the period, and on the value of “freedom” that has remained the founding value of the American identity but whose definition has evolved to underline the notion of free will of individuals as opposed to the collective Manifest Destiny rooted in Calvinistic predestination. These myths serve as moral justifications to the rhetoric of power and strength that will be the object of our second part. We will show how the steady presence of war narratives and war metaphors ascribe mythical meaning to violence. Finally, in our third part, we will see how only the heroic narrative illustrates the fusion of the myths of power and virtue and actually constitutes the essential narrative framework in post-Cold War presidential speeches. We will then conclude on the proposition that while the heroic myth may have been fostered by the end of the Cold War, it originated in the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan that might be the most significant breaking point and the beginning of an entire new ideological and political cycle.
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Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy. Les mythes nationaux dans les discours présidentiels américains post-guerre froide de George H. Bush à Barack Obama. Littératures. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016USPCA120⟩. ⟨tel-03453939⟩

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