While not yet recognized as significant producers of film, United States Steel and Republic Steel were heavily involved in sponsoring films for public relations purposes from the late 1930s through the 1950s. This essay examines the films as part of a decades-long network of PR campaigns, looking at their function as corporate discourse responding to the challenges to corporate power and authority precipitated by the Depression, the New Deal, and the rise of industrial unions. Through close readings of the films, analyzing their “illustrated lecture” form, the carefully scripted performances of their character-narrators, and the particular rhetorical styles employed, this essay describes the distinct corporate styles of the films produced by these two companies: US Steel’s “folksy” approach and Republic Steel’s more direct and declamatory style. The essay argues that the films from both steel corporations can be read together productively to map two distinct rhetorical approaches of a class discourse and to reveal the distinct worldviews of corporate leaders during a period when their hegemony had to be reestablished in the United States.


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pp. 33-43
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