As the nation prepares for the inauguration of its 45th U.S. president on January 20, Communication scholars are taking a look back at how the previous 44 presidents addressed the nation on their first day in office. Whether delivering messages of hope, gratitude, warnings, or promises for the future, the presidential inauguration speech is one of the most watched and analyzed – from its style and length to its tone and substance. Donald Trump’s will be no different.

Three political Communication scholars are available for insight on questions such as:

• What are some of the expectations for a presidential inauguration speech, given its immense significance and the ceremony that surrounds it? • How might this inauguration address differ coming as it will from a new president who is known for his colorful and direct style? • Does an inauguration address call for a different, more traditional style of presidential communication? If so, will Trump adhere to that tradition?


Vanessa B. Beasley, Ph.D. Dean of the Ingram Commons and Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Vanderbilt University

Vanessa Beasley’s research focuses on presidential rhetoric, U.S. political communication, and rhetorical criticism and theory. She is the author of You, the People: American National Identity in Presidential Rhetoric, and the editor of Who Belongs in America: Presidents, Rhetoric & Immigration.

John Murphy, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Communication, University of Illinois

John Murphy studies the history of American Public Address and political rhetoric. He's interested in how political languages collide and influence each other over the course of U.S. history, and has written about John and Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King. Jr., George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. His commentary on the presidency, presidential speechmaking, and rhetoric regularly appears in the Washington Post, the New York Times, WGN, USA Today, and more. He is currently finishing a book project on the presidential speeches of John F. Kennedy and the American liberal tradition.

Allison M. Prasch, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Colorado State University

Allison Prasch is a scholar of U.S. presidential rhetoric and public address. She has written about the foreign policy rhetoric of Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. Her current book project examines how Cold War U.S. presidents linked their foreign policy objectives to particular geographical locations and, in so doing, extended the United States’ physical and metaphorical presence in the world.