Title

One World: Wendell Willkie's Rhetoric of Globalism in the World War II Era

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 6-1-2018

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

During the World War II era, a time of civilizational uncertainty, globalism emerged as a rhetorical alternative both to the isolationism predominant before the war and to the Cold War bipolarity that would replace it. A primary advocate for globalism was Wendell Willkie, the failed 1940 Republican presidential candidate who went on to cooperate with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, serving as his former rival's proxy and personal representative in two famous overseas trips. While scholarship in rhetorical studies has accounted for the Roosevelt presidency and other forces shaping public discourse during the war and early Cold War, it has generally overlooked the importance of Willkie's globalism in providing a bipartisan vocabulary with which Americans could describe a postwar peace sustained by interpersonal economics of free trade, global human rights, and burgeoning domestic civil rights. Using Willkie's 1943 book One World as well as materials from his archives at Indiana University, this essay reads a popular figure and his influential ideas back into our historical narrative, demonstrating how he established what Kenneth Burke termed identification through the use of the related rhetorical strategies of proximity, presence, and ethos, inviting ordinary Americans to imagine a globally interdependent postwar peace.

Publication Title

Rhetoric & Public Affairs

Volume

21

Issue

2

First Page

201

Last Page

233

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