Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Sustained academic and popular interest in the Holocaust depends largely on the ability of educators to communicate its universality. At Holocaust memorials around the world, educators make strategic rhetorical choices in pursuit of this imperative. However, as communicators present narratives, documentation, and visual rhetoric at memorials, they filter each message through a unique cultural lens. This unavoidable human tendency raises questions concerning the degree to which culture shapes Holocaust narratives. Given that Holocaust memorials may offer pivot insights into modern and future genocides, cultural influences on Holocaust rhetoric seem worthy of renewed evaluation. Burke's dramatistic pentad provides a valuable tool with which a scholar can evaluate the rhetoric at Holocaust memorials. The pentad preserves unique facets of the communication acts, enabling a rhetor to identify differences between the memorials, while providing a universally applicable framework through which to view the memorials. This pentadic analysis reveals that Holocaust memorials address many of the same universal questions. The answers to these questions, however, depend on the culture surrounding the memorial. Such a finding seems to indicate that a global event such as the Holocaust will stimulate the same questions in citizens across a variety of cultures, but that citizens will reach different conclusions about the event based on the influences of their culture.


International and Intercultural Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication