Mediating energy: rhetoric and the future of energy resources

Brian Cozen
2016
T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f U t a h G r a d u a t e S c h o o l STATEMENT OF DISSERTATION APPROVAL The dissertation of Brian Cozen has been approved by the following supervisory committee members: Danielle Endres , Chair ABSTRACT Discourse regarding the societal role of "energy" and the "energetic" has implications for environmental politics and the future of energy resources. This dissertation offers rhetorical analyses of three media case studies on energy resource futures. I argue that
more » ... s. I argue that such energy resource texts constitute a politics of common sense around the necessitated expansion of energy production. This political position manifests discursively by emphasizing the central societal role of energy in building the mobile, modernist world. This central role emphasizes energy's mediating function as an immaterial force that enlivens modern society and the automobile human subject. My first chapter, along with outlining the three case studies and their political thread, elaborates on these articulations between energy and media, energy and modernity, movement, and mobility, and energy and rhetoric. The three analysis chapters offer close readings of media case studies in order to elaborate on rhetorical strategies that highlight these various articulations to energy resources. Chapter Two examines commercial advertising campaigns from three major oil companies: Brazil's national company, Petrobras; Royal Dutch Shell; and ExxonMobil. I examine how these campaigns associate movement, mobility, and energy as the purview and purpose of the oil company. Chapter Three turns to the pronuclear documentary, Pandora's Promise, as an exemplar case study for the relationship between modernization and theology in contemporary ecomodernist discourses. Chapter Four analyzes the relationship between the United Nations iv and the television series Revolution. I argue that linking energy poverty campaigns with a dystopian narrative about the sudden loss of electricity has implications for how people understand the humanitarian role of energy access. The concluding chapter further examines these humanitarian implications. Universalizing discourses that link energy expansion to human progress has implications for critical cultural studies, rhetorical theory and criticism, and energy politics.
doi:10.26053/0h-3p2x-ad00 fatcat:gs3pnrnzeba4na4zhhlha4tebq