Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level





David Jolliffe

Committee Member

Elias Dominguez-Barajas

Second Committee Member

Patrick Slattery


Language, Oracles, Political Action Committees


While most animals communicate in order to convey environmental information such as danger or where food is located, humans have evolved and developed an articulated language for a myriad of uses, and our language is the basis for how we shape and maintain reality. Language can be used to teach, express an attitude or affiliation to a group, and give us a sense of our state of being, but it can also be used to manipulate a narrative in order to gain power over others. This project argues that Political Action Committees (PACs), and the language that they use in advertising for or against a candidate or legislation, function as modern-day oracles in that they use language to obtain authority and power. In many ancient and archaic societies oracles were considered authoritative and trusted voices, and, therefore, were able to have a substantial influence on the culture in which they operated; oracles were instrumental in providing information on the best course of action to take in one’s life, where a government should send a colony, and they had the ability to keep widespread empires working toward the same objectives. Like oracles, PACs can influence what course of action a voter might take, or influence how the government operates, and even influence how groups of like-minded people, separated by distance and time, work toward the same objectives. PACs, therefore, can be seen to have similar functions in our modern culture as oracles had in their own cultures.