In The Matter Of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Overview

In June 1954, the Atomic Energy Commission determined that J. Robert Oppenheimer, wartime director of the Manhattan Project and Father of the Atomic Bomb, was a security risk. Consequently, America's most prominent scientist was removed from government service. In contrast to historical and political explanations of the Oppenheimer case, Holloway explores the role that rhetoric played in Oppenheimer's demise. In doing so, the author draws attention to the symbolic nature of politics and character and highlights ...

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Overview

In June 1954, the Atomic Energy Commission determined that J. Robert Oppenheimer, wartime director of the Manhattan Project and Father of the Atomic Bomb, was a security risk. Consequently, America's most prominent scientist was removed from government service. In contrast to historical and political explanations of the Oppenheimer case, Holloway explores the role that rhetoric played in Oppenheimer's demise. In doing so, the author draws attention to the symbolic nature of politics and character and highlights the significant interaction of political and scientific terminologies in American discourse.

Holloway's analysis and evaluation suggest that the accusations against Oppenheimer used the most powerful terms of the mid-1950s—communism, progress, and science—to legitimize the government's questionable action. Oppenheimer, for his part, failed to use his most strategic rhetorical resources in his defense, and therefore participated in his own ruin. Holloway highlights the rhetorical interaction among accusation, self-defense, and decision statements through a microscopic rhetorical analysis of the case's five central documents. An original extension and refinement of Kenneth Burke's cluster-agon method, which Holloway calls terminological algebra, is proposed as a systematic analytical tool consistent with Burke's theories. Recommended for critics of rhetoric and political communication.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Holloway (communication studies, Virginia Polytechnic) argues that "Oppenheimer opposed the government's and nation's terminological orientation, both literally and figuratively..."--pref. A factor, perhaps, but we suspect that the director of that unique pantheon of geniuses at Los Alamos showed too clearly his contempt for the nest of insects that attacked him. An important interpretation of a shameful episode in our history. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275944292
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/1993
  • Pages: 136
  • Lexile: 1310L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

RACHEL HOLLOWAY is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Table of Contents

Figures
Preface
Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 Oppenheimer's Rise to Power: The Historical Prelude 15
Ch. 3 A Linguistic Calculus: Terminological Algebra 29
Ch. 4 Oppenheimer's Public Life Revisited: Analysis of the Accusations and the Defense 51
Ch. 5 Oppenheimer's Public Life Rewritten: Analysis of the Decision Statements 81
Ch. 6 Conclusions Drawn 101
Bibliography 115
Index 121
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