Jackie Kennedy’s presidential persona
Caudle, Courtney Alexsis
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In rhetorical studies, much has been written on the role of first lady and the women whom enacted this position. Scholars in several fields (history, rhetoric, popular culture) have examined First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy: however, this thesis supplements existing research both in first lady scholarship generally and on Jackie’s specific performance as first lady. I contend that Jackie’s performance remains unique because she carved a celebrity space both inimitable in the 1960s yet available to subsequent first ladies. I examine mediated texts (both visual and written) from 1961-1963 to (re)examine her enactment of the role during (1) President Kennedy’s Inauguration, (2) her televised tour of the White House, and (3) President Kennedy’s funeral. Ultimately, I argue she was integral to historical and contemporary public memory of his presidential persona and legacy.