Inspiring American and global audiences: the rhetorical power of Randy Pausch's last lecture in the digital age
From: China Media Research(Vol. 7, Issue 1)
Publisher: Edmondson Intercultural Enterprises
Document Type: Report
Length: 6,661 words
Randy Pausch, Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S., delivered his last lecture "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" in September, 2007 after doctors told him that he had only months to live. The speech became an instant success and inspired millions around the world, thanks to media coverage and Internet technologies. He died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 47 in July, 2008. Informed by Kenneth Burke's concepts of identification and pentad, this paper studies the rhetorical power of Pausch's speech as he addressed American and global audiences and emphasized transcendent values by constructing an ideal world with unlimited opportunities for all. A Burkeian analysis reveals that Pausch's speech featured the agent-act ratio and focused on human efforts to achieve professional success and pursue personal happiness by following childhood dreams and overcoming life's obstacles. Pausch's rhetoric challenges us to reflect on new conceptions of oratory and audience in the digital age and their implications for intercultural communication. [China Media Research. 2011; 7(1): 57-64] Keywords: Rhetoric, media, audience, intercultural communication, digital age
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