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Crafting the JFK legend: How the Kennedy story is constructed and retold / DWYNWEN THOMAS

Swansea University Author: DWYNWEN, THOMAS

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    Copyright: The author, Dwynwen Anne Thomas, 2020

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.56646

Abstract

This thesis explores how the ambivalently multifarious Kennedy ‘stories’ of JFK as Icon or Myth are constructed and how its ‘telling’ has been profoundly influenced by authorial intent. In contrast with much of the Kennedy literature, that often blurs the two, the thesis therefore works with a stron...

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Published: Swansea 2020
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Wall, Matthew ; Mcveigh, Stephen ; Evans, Mark
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa56646
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Abstract: This thesis explores how the ambivalently multifarious Kennedy ‘stories’ of JFK as Icon or Myth are constructed and how its ‘telling’ has been profoundly influenced by authorial intent. In contrast with much of the Kennedy literature, that often blurs the two, the thesis therefore works with a strong distinction between ‘Icon’ as having wholly positive connotations and ‘Myth’ as a narrative which either falsifies or negatively debunks any pre-existing positive accounts of its subject matter.My focus on newspaper articles, in particular from The New York Times and The Dallas Morning News, arises from the familiarly powerful claim that journalists write ‘the first draft of history’, although the thesis also reaches beyond journalism. Crucial to the argument is E. H. Carr’s historiography and its contention that historical facts are selected and presented according to particular hypotheses utilized by historians of any stripe for their own particular purposes. The thesis uses J. L. Austin’s theory of speech acts to demonstrate how the telling of the Kennedy story has variously employed techniques not only supposedly just to describe his legacy (the locutionary speech act) but also a) to create a legacy (the illocutionary speech act) and b) to influence audience attitudes toward the legacy (the perlocutionary speech act).The malleability of the Kennedy story helps to explain the reason why there remains so many attempts to retell it. The thesis also opens up consideration as to why it is this particular story that so many still want to hear.
College: College of Arts and Humanities