Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Road to Recovery: Communications One Month after Japan’s Disaster




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



On Friday, March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. Minutes later, a destructive tsunami, with waves as large as 124 feet, permanently altered the lives of many residents. The death toll of this disaster climbed to over 13,000, with an equal number of people still missing. In addition to the loss of life and destruction of entire cities, Japan faced an additional pending threat: a possible meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Damaged cooling pools at the plant and leakage of radioactive materials forced the evacuation of 150,000 residents surrounding the nuclear plant. One month after the disaster, communications from many Japanese agencies switched from reporting news to focusing on the road to recovery. These communications are from the Prime Minister of Japan, the Japanese Red Cross Society, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The panelists will investigate these communication artifacts by employing different rhetorical approaches. Panelist #1 will introduce the artifacts of the case and facilitate a discussion among panelists and audience members, all of whom will be given copies of the artifacts. Panelist #2 will use Kenneth Burke's Pentad framework (act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose) to critique the artifacts. Panelist #3 will analyze the documents using a visual rhetoric approach (Gestalt theory and Kostelnick's supra-textual design matrix) to determine the effectiveness of the artifacts document design. Panelist #4 will offer a response that draws connections between the panelists' theoretical and methodological approaches and suggest additional avenues of analysis.

Conference Name

Annual Convention for the Association for Business Communication

Conference Location

Montreal, Canada

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