Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Sandra J. Sarkela

Committee Member

Antonio de Velasco

Committee Member

Craig O. Stewart

Committee Member

Janann Sherman


This dissertation examines Cindy Sheehan's Iraq War protests from November 2004 to May 2007 as a case study of contentious rhetoric. The notion of contentious rhetoric is based on the concept of contentious politics developed by sociologist and political scientist Charles Tilly, sociologist Doug McAdam, and political scientist Sidney Tarrow. This new conceptualization acts as a guide to understanding how Sheehan navigates the dichotomy between women and war and how she uses her own motherhood as validation for her protests. I selected a cross section of Sheehan's speeches and online blogs for this analysis and, through a close reading of these texts, looked for themes to emerge that align Sheehan within the context of contentious rhetoric. The cross section of speeches and blogs were selected to demonstrate that Sheehan's use of both online and offline protest approaches work together, even though they are different media, to create a larger repertoire of contentious rhetoric against the Iraq War. Through this framework, the analysis shows that Sheehan is not part of an isolated anti-war social movement, but is actually extending the women's peace movement that has existed over the past century in the United States. By developing this conccept of contentious rhetoric, this project creates an opening for studying the rhetoric that exists before a social movemetn occurs or fails.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.