Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr Shawn Powers

Second Advisor

Dr Michael Bruner

Third Advisor

Dr Carol Winkler

Fourth Advisor

Dr Abbas Barzegar


There have been many studies on media (mis)representations of the Middle East and Iran. However, the experts and analysts who serve as major sources for those representations (and for government policy making) have not been systematically studied. This project studies discourses and networks of widely published Iran experts during the first year of the presidency of Iran’s Hassan Rouhani (2013-2014), the period during which unprecedented direct U.S.-Iran diplomacy paved the way for the historic nuclear agreement with Iran. Norman Fairclough’s three dimensional critical discourse analysis method and Peter Haas’s Epistemic Community approach are employed to study discursive as well as non-discursive (networked) characteristics of the most widely published U.S. Iran experts during this time period. Results identify five major epistemic communities that, altogether, represent the spectrum of U.S. Iran experts: neoconservatism, liberal interventionism, containment (tactical engagement), strategic engagement, and rapprochement. These five epistemic communities are described in detail throughout the five results chapters. Findings show that these experts influence the terms of media representations as well as the foreign policy making process. Findings also show that experts operate in a web of discursive as well as networked affiliations (i.e., epistemic communities) in order to be able to develop and circulate their discourses. It is however important to recognize that epistemic communities are not uniform in terms of formation stage, cohesion and level.


Available for download on Friday, January 02, 2099