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            The purpose of this study is to analyze Theodore Hesburgh’s fund-raising campaign speeches to the alumni of the University of Notre Dame. The study assumes a rhetorical design, specifically the Burkean dramatistic approach, in an attempt to understand Hesburgh’s motive for developing his fund-raising rhetoric.  Pentadic analysis allows for the units of analysis of act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose to be applied to a text to discover human motives as discussed in chapter 1.  These units are applied to the 10 fund-raising speeches and were used to raise funds in different alumni chapters around the country and overseas.

All of the data provide information on Hesburgh’s rhetorical strategies to the same kinds of audiences–alumni.  With the exigence constant, my focus can be on the strategies Hesburgh developed to respond to that exigence.  Alumni constitute an audience Hesburgh really wanted to cultivate in that they are a major source of funds as illustrated by the more than 22 times he addressed them for fund-raising purposes during his presidency.

Data Collection

The texts that constitute the data for analysis are 10 fund-raising speeches by Hesburgh presented at alumni gatherings, campaign banquets, and class reunions for fund-raising purposes throughout the country and in some overseas locations.  The dates and titles of the speeches follow found in Appendix 2:

1.      June 1958      Address to Gentlemen Alumni

2.      September 7, 1960      Fund-Raising for New library

3.      1961              Ford Foundation Challenge Grant

4.      June 8, 1974      Alumni Reunion Banquet

5.      April 15, 1977      Fund-Raising Address

6.      1977            Ford Foundation Grant Presentation

7.      April 18, 1979      Opening Campaign Century Center

8.      June 6, 1983      Alumni Reunion Talk

9.      March 1984      Edward Fredrick Sorin Society

10.  1986            Alumni Reunion

The staff at the University of Notre Dame Archives, in consultation with Kevin Cawley, the Director of the Archives, assisted by making duplicate copies of the speeches on tape and rerecorded the reel-to-reel tapes on cassette tapes. I transcribed the tapes for analysis purposes.  These tapes and videotapes form the data on which this study is based. There were no hard copies or any other forms of Hesburgh’s fund-raising presentations. 

Cawley and Peter Lysy, another staff member at the Archives, confirmed that 12 speeches accounted for all the records the Archives contain of the actual presentations Hesburgh gave to the alumni on fund raising.  Two speeches were not analyzed because they were not audible enough to be transcribed for analysis purposes.

Method of Analysis

As an analytic tool, the dramatistic approach includes two parts: (1) naming the five terms of agent, act, scene, purpose, and agency; and (2) identifying the dominant terms.  Because I analyzed several speeches with many pentads, I engaged in additional steps of synthesis and interpretation beyond these two steps.  Foss (1996, p. 458) gives a clear description of the pentadic analysis as outlined below:

Labeling of Terms

After choosing the artifact for analysis, the first step is to identify the five terms in the rhetorical artifact from the perspective of the rhetor and these form a pentadic set.  In each artifact, there could be one or more pentadic sets depending on the rhetor’s perception of the situation.  Identification of the agent involves naming the group or individual who is the main character of the situation as it is presented by the rhetor.  The agent could be the rhetor him- or herself or another person or group.  The naming of the agent also may involve descriptions of what the agent is like—for example, kind, vicious, unscrupulous, dangerous, or generous.

The act is the rhetor’s presentation of the major action taken by the agent.   The critic who is studying the speeches of a United States president, for example, may find that the act is the effort to accomplish health-care reform, with the president serving as the agent.  In a speech honoring someone for her community service, the act might be the creation of a literacy program by the person being honored. 

The means the rhetor says are used to perform the act or the instruments used to accomplish it are labeled the agency.  In a speech about health-care reform, for example, a president might depict the agency as hard work, careful compromise, or futile attempts to gain the cooperation of the opposing party.  Scene is the ground, location, or situation in which the rhetor says the act takes place—the kind of stage the rhetor sets when describing physical conditions, social and cultural influences, or historical causes. 

The purpose of the act is what the rhetor suggests the agent intends to accomplish by performing the act.  It is the rhetor’s account of the agent’s intentions, feelings, and values.  Purpose is not synonymous with motive; purpose is the reason for action that is specified by the rhetor for the agent, while motive is the explanation for the rhetor’s action, manifest in the rhetorical artifact as a whole.   Identification of the five pentadic terms results in an overview of the rhetor’s view of a particular situation. 

Identification of Dominant Term

After naming the five terms of the pentad, the next step is to discover which of the five elements identified dominates the rhetoric or is featured by the rhetor.  Discovery of the dominant term provides insight into what dimension of the situation the rhetor sees as most important.

The way to discover the dominant pentadic element is to use what Burke called ratios.  A ratio is a pairing of two of the elements in the pentad to discover the relationship between them and the effect that each has on the other.  Each of the five elements, then, may be put together with each of the others to form these ratios:  scene-act, scene-agent, scene-agency, scene-purpose, act-scene, act-agent, act-agency, act-purpose, agent-scene, agent-act, agent-agency, agent-purpose, agency-scene, agency-act, agency-agent, agency-purpose, purpose-scene, purpose-act, purpose-agent, and purpose-agency.

To use the ratios, the critic pairs two terms from those identified in the pentad as illustrated in Table 1.  There is no right order with which to begin this process; the critic simply dives in and begins pairing various elements of the five named.  With each ratio, the critic looks for the relationship between these two terms in the rhetor’s description of the situation, trying to discover whether the first term influences the nature of the second term.

Elements of the Pentad



Scene – Act

Scene – Agent

Scene- Agency



Act – Scene

Act – Agent

Act – Agency

Act - Purpose


Agent – Scene

Agent – Act

Agent –Agency



Agency –Scene

Agency – Act

Agency – Agent



Purpose -Scene

Purpose – Act



The critic may begin, for example, by putting together scene and act in a scene-act ratio.  The critic’s explanation of this ratio involves asking whether the nature of the scene, as described by the rhetor, affects the nature of the act the rhetor describes.  (An act-scene ratio, in contrast, would explore whether the nature of the act dominates--where the way the act is described takes precedence over the nature of the scene.)  The critic may discover that there is a significant relationship between the two terms in a ratio or may find that the first term in the ratio has little impact or effect on the second (see appendix 1). 

The critic continues to pair terms in ratios to discover if one term seems to affect the nature and character of another.  Review of several of the ratios will produce a pattern in which the critic discovers that one term (or sometimes more than one) is the central, controlling term and defines the other terms in the pentad.  For example, analysis of one pentad in a speech might reveal three instances in which act dominates in ratios, one in which scene, purpose, and agency does.  In this case, act would be the dominant term in this pentad because that term dominants other terms more frequently.  This analysis can be depicted visually, as illustrated in Table 2.

Pentadic Terms











Synthesis and Interpretations

Hesburgh’s speeches revealed many pentads in each speech.  The term that was most frequent as a controlling term in all of the pentads in a speech became the dominant term for that speech.  So, for example, if a speech had 13 pentads and act was dominant in those pentads six times, agency three times, agent two times, and purpose two times, I named act as the controlling term in that speech.   I then combined another list by decades to determine the controlling term for each decade to discover if there was a difference in his speeches across the decades.  So, for example, I discovered that, in the 70s, act was controlling 13 times in the speeches I analyzed in that decade, purpose was controlling 12 times, agent six times, agency six times, and scene once.  I thus was able to discover terms that were co-controlling terms for that decade—act and purpose.

 Finally, I combined all the lists from the all the decades to develop an overall picture of the content of the dominant terms in Hesburgh’s speeches across the decades.  I listed the terms in each of the five categories: purpose, act, agency, agent, and scene.  I sorted the terms in each category into categories according to the primary words and central gist of the term.  For example, all terms with the term support in it were sorted into the category of support; all terms that suggested exceeding boundaries and expectations were put into the category of creating a superlative Notre Dame.  I discovered that purpose for Hesburgh could be sorted into the categories of enacting Notre Dame principles, creating a superlative Notre Dame, and supporting Notre Dame.  I then interpreted the nature of Hesburgh’s controlling terms based on the nature of the categories created and used those categories to suggest what made Hesburgh’s fund-raising speeches effective.

As part of my process of interpretation, I used Burke’s notion that the analysis can be deepened by identifying the philosophical system to which a dominant term corresponds (1962, p. 128, 1966, p. 219).  If, for example, act is featured as the dominant term, the corresponding philosophy is realism, the doctrine that universal principles are more real than the objects we sense through our senses.  If scene is featured, the corresponding philosophy is materialism, the system that regards all facts and reality as explainable in terms of physical laws.  If agent is featured, idealism is the corresponding philosophy.  This is the system that views the mind or spirit as each person experiences it as fundamentally real.  If the featured term is agency, the corresponding philosophy is pragmatism, the means necessary to attain a goal.  If purpose is featured, the corresponding philosophy is mysticism; the element of unity is emphasized to the point that individuality disappears.  The corresponding philosophies were used to develop and refine the analysis of Hesburgh’s speeches.

In my presentation of the findings of the analysis of Hesburgh’s fund-raising speeches, I attempt to meet the standards in qualitative research that are the equivalent of reliability and validity in quantitative research.  The objective is not to find isomorphism between my findings and an objective reality but between constructed realities of the rhetor and the reconstructions I attribute to them.  This is accomplished primarily through argumentation.  My task, as Foss (1983, p. 283) suggests, is to offer one perspective on the data and to argue in support of that perspective.  Argument, then, is the primary criterion for assessing the reliability and validity that would be done in quantitative research.   I accomplish this by presenting the pentadic sets as identified in Hesburgh’s speeches, my reasons for their selection, and quotes from the speeches that show what led me to the conclusions I make.  The bulk of my discussion articulates how the dominant terms identified for each pentad led me to a view of Hesburgh’s fund-raising strategies.  The claims I make, as Foss suggests, “will not always be successful in convincing the reader to accept the claim being made about the artifact [speeches], but the reader should be able to see how the critic arrives at a particular view of and conclusions about the artifact [speeches]” (Foss, 1996, p. 19).  My goal is to show the reader how I moved from the data of Hesburgh’s speeches to my claims about his efforts to create identification.