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WHO CAN WE LISTEN TO AMID THE UNCERTAINTIES AND RISKS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC? A COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY ON PUBLIC RHETORICS OF TWO INFLUENTIAL PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS FROM CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES

thesis
posted on 2023-07-10, 22:52 authored by Jianfen ChenJianfen Chen

In today’s interconnected world, public health crises like COVID-19 have a widespread impact, transcending national borders, causing economic upheaval, the loss of trillions of dollars from the gross domestic product (GDP), and significant disruptions to health systems, and forcing millions of individuals into poverty. While countries may differ in their responses to these crises, their shared objective is to mitigate the damage and ultimately bring an end to the outbreak. Public health experts play a crucial role in these efforts, utilizing rhetorical strategies to effectively communicate with the public about the pandemic. Notably, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci in the United States and Dr. Wenhong Zhang in China emerged as revered figures, leading public health experts, and adept communicators in addressing the risks posed by the pandemic in their respective countries. This dissertation investigates the rhetorical practices of Dr. Zhang and Dr. Fauci in their communications about the pandemic to their respective publics. Employing a case study approach, contextualized comparative rhetoric as an inquiry method, and computer-assisted qualitative rhetorical analysis, this dissertation identifies the similarities and differences in the rhetorical strategies adopted by the two doctors. The findings reveal that both doctors utilize similar rhetorical tools, including ethos, kairos, narratives, and metaphors, to effectively communicate about the pandemic to the public. However, they also exhibit differences influenced by contextual factors such as political, social, and cultural contexts. These findings contribute to our understanding of the role of rhetoric in public health experts’ communications about the pandemic in different countries during a global public health crisis.

History

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Department

  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Richard Johnson-Sheehan

Additional Committee Member 2

C. B. Dilger

Additional Committee Member 3

Jennifer Bay

Additional Committee Member 4

Sweta Baniya

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