Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Michael L. Keene

Committee Members

Russel Hirst, Mary Jo Reiff


This study presents a rhetorical analysis of the International Friendship Bell in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with particular attention to how it relates to the World War II Manhattan Project. The rhetorical theories of identification, presence, and civic religion elucidated by Kenneth Burke, Chaїm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, and Gregory Clark, respectively, provide a theoretical amalgamation by which we can view and study the material object of the bell. As we use this combined theory to scaffold a rhetorical analysis of the bell, we discover several important ways in which the object of the bell, and its surrounding controversy, illustrate the theory. First, we discover that three distinct groups have experienced Burke’s notion of alienation, or separation, because of the development of the nuclear weapon. Each group, in an attempt to regain a sense of solidarity, attempts to use identification as a means of rebuilding the broken relationship. Meanwhile, each group illustrates Perelman’s and Olbechts-Tyteca’s idea of presence by including material that encourages identification, while omitting or underplaying information that might be harmful to the argument. Finally, each group exhibits Clark’s civic religion by attaching religious significance to the bell for rhetorical purposes.

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