Intertextuality, Interdiscursivity and Identification in the 2008 Obama Campaign

Foxlee, Neil (2009) Intertextuality, Interdiscursivity and Identification in the 2008 Obama Campaign. In: Identity, Alterity, Hybridity, (IDAH), Proceedings of the International Conference. Galați University Press, Galati, pp. 26-42. ISBN 978-606-8008-31-8

[thumbnail of by permission of the publisher]
PDF (by permission of the publisher) - Published Version

Official URL:


This paper argues that a key factor in Barack Obama’s ability to mobilise support for his successful 2008 presidential campaign was his use of multicultural intertextual references in a hybrid discourse with which different ethnic audiences could identify. Obama’s rhetoric drew on two discursive traditions in particular: that of Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers on the one hand, and that of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement on the other. By combining explicit and implicit references to both traditions in his speeches, and by interweaving the white myth of an America founded in freedom and equality with the black narrative of a journey towards freedom and equality, Obama was able to persuasively present a unifying metanarrative that embodied an inclusive revisioning of the American story and the American Dream, offering Americans a common future that connected with their various pasts. In addition to examining Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ and victory speeches, the paper will illustrate how he created a dialogical relationship with diverse audiences by including extracts from songs to which he alluded and examples of the many YouTube videos – often themselves hybrid creations which sampled his speeches – that he inspired during the course of his campaign.

Repository Staff Only: item control page