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Gunn, Joshua, and Mark Lawrence McPhail

Spring 2015, 45:1, pages 1-24

Coming Home to Roost: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the (Re)Signing of (Post) Racial Rhetoric

Abstract: In the spirit of apologia, this essay illustrates how the rhetoric of Reverend Jeremiah Wright can be better understood when set in relation to the black vernacular tradition of Signification or signifyin(g), the Racial Contract, and Whiteness. A sustained contextualization of Wright’s “controversial statements” reveals a complex performative rhetoric that is highly dependent on elements of delivery, especially tone. We argue that reporters in the mainstream media as well as Barack Obama deliberately maligned the performative dimension of Wright’s rhetoric, thereby misrepresenting it in the service of generating controversy and political expediency, respectively.


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