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Victory in the Cold War: Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall”

Date: Thursday, Aug. 26 | 11:00 AM–12:30 PM EDT

The Cold War was, fundamentally, a military conflict. Each side threatened the other with conventional and nuclear weapons, hoping to bend the other to its will. But it was also an unambiguously ideological conflict, a confrontation between capitalist democracy and communist oligarchy. In this context, critical speeches were both rhetorical weapons designed to undermine the enemy and powerful diplomatic and social signals in a complex political environment. Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech exemplifies the importance of political rhetoric in international rivalry. In this seminar, we will study the context and content of the speech, both politically and rhetorically.

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