Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Larson, Charles U.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication Studies


Reed; Lou. New York; Devo (Musical group); Style; Musical--Analysis


Non-discursive artifacts, like popular music, have long been ignored by communications and rhetorical scholars. Cultural theories and theories of consumerism often stand in their place. These disciplines ignore the functional aspects of non-discursive artifacts, resting instead on positivistic measures. Positivistic measures fail to explore how experiential meaning is exchanged between the source/rhetor/artist and the receiver/audi- tor/audience in regard to the acceptance or rejection of messages. Although the role of communications and rhetorical scholars, in viewing non-discursive artifacts, shares a similar goal--studying how people influence each other's predispositions, this goal requires adaptation before its application can extend toward the more modern, non- discursive, electronic modes of communication. Inclusion of experiential knowledge, or the individual world views of both the source/receiver, is an effective adaption that provides a theoretical framework for viewing non- discursive artifacts. This study investigated popular music as a non- discursive vehicle for opposing cultural hegemony (the dominant world view). By choosing symbols that construct a world view that undermines ideological images, Lou Reed and Devo engage in exhortative, subversive messages that produce semantic tension. Semantic tension occurs when an artist's world view conflicts with what is believed to be true (hegemonic) by the listener. This tension is released when the listener accepts the artist's world view, indicating an acceptance of the message. The exhortative rhetorical perspective treats each artifact as the artist's own constructed world view. In this analysis, exhortation is described as the style a rhetor uses to either create a world view or invert an existing one through artistic choices. These choices are identified using a Burkian analysis. Investigated is the framework of two distinct styles within this form, that of the band Devo and the singer-songwriter-musician Lou Reed. The execution, effect, and popularity, of these artists is reviewed in relation to the socio-political and socio-historical realm in which they occurred and the probable acceptance of their messages by an "implied audience." Suggestions for future research in the area of popular music are also included.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 193-202)


202 pages




Northern Illinois University

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