Date of Award

Spring 2001

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Seib, Philip

Second Advisor

Scotton, James

Third Advisor

Goldzwig, Steven

Abstract

John F. Kennedy's presidency has been analyzed under many aspects by scholars of many disciplines. Political scientists, economists, military strategists, and communication experts have found the years from 1960 to 1963 a period of intriguing events and a source of challenging questions. Much has been written concerning the relationship between Kennedy and the American media. Kennedy has been noted as being a man of considerable skill in projecting a desired image in the media and the congenial relationship that Kennedy's relationship enjoyed has been well noted. However, it is curious that there has not been corresponding attention given to the relationship between Kennedy and different foreign media. In the current scholarly literature, there certainly has been a lack of coverage concerning Kennedy and the Italian media. The reaction of the Italian press towards Kennedy, especially by the most widely read newspaper, Corriere della Sera, is interesting in many respects. Certainly one could compare how Kennedy was presented in all other Italian media. For the purpose of this thesis, however, this particular newspaper exemplifies acutely some of the most striking and curious aspects of how Kennedy was covered. Some of this reaction lends itself to varying interpretations and it is my hope that by the end this thesis I will have made a case that some possible scenarios warrant further serious study. Therefore the purpose of this thesis is two-fold: l)to investigate the treatment of Kennedy while discovering salient aspects of the Italian press; 2)to indicate future lines of inquiry. The mutual relationship between Carriere della Sera, Kennedy's image building, and foreign policy-making will become more clear. Much can be gleaned from such an investigation on the influence the media had on the Italian perception of the American presidency - showing the impact the rhetorical presidency had beyond United States borders. Furthermore, as will be shown, this news coverage also had implications for Italian policy-making. In the first chapter, I will present an overview of the studies that have dealt with the topics necessary to answer the questions this thesis addresses. In particular, I have focused on the texts that have shed light on John Kennedy, both as a man and as a politician; on the historical context during which Kennedy was president; on the theories concerning the rhetorical presidency; on Italy and the Italian press during the Cold War; and on narrative analysis, which is the method that, as will be explained further on, I have deemed most appropriate for the analysis of the Carriere della Sera articles. The second chapter will be devoted to the historical background of the Kennedy presidency, namely the Cold War, the relationship between the United States and Italy, and the sociocultural reality in which the Italian press was immersed. The third chapter will deal with what could be another cause of such coverage, that is, the particular care that Kennedy himself devoted to the shaping of his image. In the forth chapter I will discuss the methods used to select and analyze the articles. The fifth chapter will comprise of the textual analysis of the Corriere della Sera articles, which will have the ultimate purpose of identifying the story within the story, the underlying message of all the articles. In the last chapter, I will draw some conclusions as to the consequences on international relations and indicate possible avenues for further study.

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