The Rhetorical Career of César Chávez

978-1-58544-302-4 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
320 pp.
Pub Date: 04/01/2003


  • Paperback $17.95 s
Although born into one of the least powerful segments of American society, César Chávez led the farm-labor movement to unprecedented heights. His powerful effect on audiences is well known, but award-winning scholars John C. Hammerback and Richard J. Jensen offer the first explanation of how Chávez achieved that effect.

Although other studies of Chávez exist, none has examined so thoroughly his rhetoric nor analyzed in depth such a large number of Chávez's own texts—scores of which have previously been unstudied.

Chávez was an indefatigable speaker, writer, and non-discursive communicator who developed a well-thought-out approach to his rhetorical discourse and placed his speaking and writing at the very center of his career. By merging thought and character in his themes, arguments, and explanations, and in his first and second personae, Chávez was able to identify with the character of his listeners. That identification induced many audience members to support Chávez's agenda for union activism.

The authors have developed a model "to help explain Chávez's startling transformation of some audiences and persuasion of others." Hammerback and Jensen reveal that Chávez's world view motivated him to work tirelessly and directed him to the particular rhetorical qualities and techniques that characterized his discourse. The authors also demonstrate Chávez's surprising effectiveness as a rhetor despite his soft-spoken style, uncharacteristic of most powerful orators.

Published by Texas A&M University Press