Carnegie Mellon University

John Oddo

John Oddo

Associate Professor of English

  • BH 245 R
Department of English, Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall 259, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Area of Study

Professional Writing, Rhetoric, Global Communication and Applied Translation


My research draws on theories of rhetoric, discourse, and multimodality to critically examine how powerful agents use language (and other symbols) to generate support for war. The focal point of my research is "intertextual rhetoric"—that is, rhetoric that operates across texts and across time. I am interested in how U.S. political leaders reuse generic rhetorical techniques to manipulate the public and draw the country into hostilities. I also focus on the ways that media institutions recontextualize and modify the claims of political leaders during the run-up to war—often enhancing the "call-to-arms message." My first book, Intertextuality and the 24-Hour News Cycle, examines how Colin Powell's 2003 address to the United Nations was reported (and reformulated) by newspapers, internet news outlets, and television news networks. In my most recent book, The Discourse of Propaganda, I try to figure out how propaganda works by examining manipulative discourse in the Persian Gulf War and the "War on Terror." When I am not studying the mystifying language of war, I find some much-needed peace—at home with my wife and two daughters.


Ph.D., Kent State University

M.A., Kent State University

B.A., Canisius College



Oddo, J. (2018) The Discourse of Propaganda: Case Studies from the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terror. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Oddo, J. (2014). Intertextuality and the 24-hour news cycle: A day in the
rhetorical life of Colin Powell's U.N. address. Michigan State University Press.


Oddo, J. (2014). Variation and continuity in intertextual rhetoric:  From the
'war on terror' to the 'struggle against violent extremism.' Journal of Language and
Politics, 13(3),513-538.

Oddo, J. (2013) Discourse-based methods across texts and semiotic modes: Three tools
for micro-rhetorical analysis. Written Communication, 30(3), 236-275.  (Special
Issue on Methodology)

Oddo, J.  (2013). Precontextualization and the rhetoric of futurity:  Foretelling
Colin Powell's U.N. address on NBC News. Discourse & Communication, 7(1), 25-53.

Oddo, J. (2011) War legitimation discourse: Representing 'Us' and 'Them' in four
U.S. Presidential addresses.  Discourse & Society 22(3), 287-314.