Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication

First Advisor

Andrew A. King


National nominating conventions serve a number of purposes for their respective parties. Most notably, the convention officially bestows the party nomination on the candidate for president. Recent political conventions have been carefully orchestrated to create an air of party unity and solidarity behind the respective candidate. Beginning with the 1980 Democratic National Convention, there has been a new occurrence at these conventions. Contenders who were not going to receive the party nomination nor were they going to be the running mate for the party nominee have been granted podium time (usually during prime time of the convention) ostensibly for the purpose of addressing their supporters as well as the whole party to call for and encourage party unity. This dissertation examined six of these speeches in order to determine whether or not a new form or genre of political convention discourse has emerged. The speeches included in this analysis were Edward Kennedy's speech to the 1980 DNC, Jesse Jackson and Gary Hart's speeches to the 1984 DNC, Jesse Jackson's 1988 speech to the DNC, Jerry Brown's speech to the 1992 DNC, and Pat Buchanan's speech to the 1992 RNC. The speeches were analyzed by looking at the context under which they were presented, the actual content of the speeches--i.e., the structure and style of each--and the general reaction to the speeches. Final analysis of the six speeches to determine whether a new form or genre is emerging was inconclusive. The six speeches were not similar enough in form and content to draw a definitive conclusion. The one strong conclusion which emerged from the analysis was that the speeches, typically, were not designed to unite the party; they were designed to promote the contender in possible future elections.