Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce E. King, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Deron R. Boyles, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kristen L. Buras, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Chara H. Bohan, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Teddi Fishman, Ph.D.


Both France and the U.S. have witnessed extensive immigration in the twentieth century, and today, more than ever since World War II, the world's population is in dramatic flux. Currently almost fifty-four million people worldwide are identified by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as displaced people. If and how France and the U.S. should accommodate displaced peoples has agitated political debate in France and the U.S. with conservatively aligned political parties in both countries rejecting calls to resettle displaced peoples in France and the U.S. At the center of this dissertation is the following research question: how are immigrants rhetorically constructed in high school French and U.S. history textbooks? Rhetoric is not just about persuading an audience; it is about using identifications that program the audience not to think, but to automatically believe that one thing is associated with another. In this dissertation I use Kenneth Burke’s rhetoric as identification to examine how immigrants are rhetorically constructed in four high school French history textbooks and two high school American history textbooks, all of which are widely distributed in their respective countries. I disarticulate rhetorical constructions of immigrants in these history textbooks by interrogating the interactions of their political, economic, social, and cultural structures. In Burke’s rhetoric as identification "social cohesion and control" are realized through apposition and opposition. In the following quotation Burke explains a salient element of his rhetoric as identification: “A is not identical with his colleague, B. But insofar as their interests are joined, A is identified with B. Or he may identify himself with B even when their interests are not joined, if he assumes that they are, or is persuaded to believe so.” Why are so many people in France and the U.S. persuaded that peoples displaced by war and poverty should be locked outside their borders? Through a Burkean analysis, I locate answers to this question in the historical master narrative evidenced in the high school French and U.S. history textbooks selected for this study--a narrative that rhetorically constructs skewed characterizations of immigrants.