Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Judith Hoover, Larry Winn, Carl Kell

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The nature of the popular allegation that President John F. Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy is addressed in this thesis. An answer is sought to the question, "What qualities of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory account for its relatively widespread popular appeal?" The author seeks to demonstrate that the Kennedy conspiracy theory has attained the status of myth in contemporary culture. First, a theoretical framework based upon previous research in the area of myth and rhetoric is constructed. This framework is designed to aid the researcher in identifying mythic discourse by establishing both formal and functional criteria.

Next the framework is applied to the Kennedy conspiracy theory as manifested in various articles of popular culture including the Oliver Stone film, JFK.

Finally, the ascendancy of the Kennedy assassination to the status of myth is explained through a demonstration of its consistency with both contemporary and ancient mythic themes.


Communication | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Influence and Political Communication