«Yes We Can»
Barack Obama's Proverbial Rhetoric
Year of Publication: 2009
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2009. XIV, 352 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4331-0667-5 pb. (Softcover)
Weight: 0.520 kg, 1.146 lbs
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As President Barack Obama outlined his promise for change during the presidential campaign, he made effective use of proverbs and proverbial phrases, and invented many quotable epithets that have all the makings of future proverbs. This book examines how Obama's natural and authentic reliance on traditional metaphors enhances his impressive rhetoric, rather than reducing it to mere sound bites. Proverbs, with their often colorful metaphors, add expressiveness and emotion to his communications, giving people the opportunity to follow his pragmatic or philosophical arguments through common language. No matter the subject, Obama's prose contains metaphorical language that makes his rhetoric and oratory universally accessible.
This book contains detailed analyses of the proverbial rhetoric in Obama's books Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). A section looks at his proverbial language in 229 speeches, news conferences, interviews, and radio addresses, and the final section presents in-depth studies of his seven most significant addresses. It includes a comprehensive contextualized index of 1714 proverbial texts found within the writings and speeches from Obama's political beginnings to his memorable inaugural address.
About the author(s)/editor(s)
The Author: Wolfgang Mieder is Professor of German and Folklore at the University of Vermont. He is an internationally recognized proverb scholar, the founding editor of Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship (since 1984), and the author of the two-volume International Bibliography of Paremiology and Phraseology (2009). His many books and articles deal with cultural, folkloristic, historical, literary, philological, and political topics. Among his books related to the present topic are The Politics of Proverbs: From Traditional Wisdom to Proverbial Stereotypes (1997), The Proverbial Abraham Lincoln (2000), «No Struggle, No Progress»: Frederick Douglass and His Proverbial Rhetoric for Civil Rights (2001), «Call a Spade a Spade»: From Classical Phrase to Racial Slur (2002), Proverbs: A Handbook (2004), «Proverbs Are the Best Policy»: Folk Wisdom and American Politics (2005), and «Proverbs Speak Louder Than Words»: Folk Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature, and Mass Media (2008).