Document Type


Publication Title

Rhetoric & Public Affairs


Michigan State University Press

Publication Date

Summer 2014


Rhetorical scholarship and cultural commentary has demonstrated that environmentalist voices are consistently associated with apocalyptic rhetoric. However, this association deflects attention from the apocalyptic rhetoric that comes from industry and countermovements to environmentalism. This essay seeks to remedy that oversight by proposing the concept of “industrial apocalyptic” as a significant rhetorical form in environmental controversy. Based on analysis of the rhetoric of the US coal industry, we find that these industrial apocalyptic narratives rely on a burlesque frame in order to disrupt the categories of establishment and outsider, and thus thwart environmental regulation. Ultimately, we argue that industrial apocalyptic co-opts environmentalist appeals for radical change in the service of blocking such change and naturalizes neoliberal ideology as the common-sense discourse of the center.


© 2014 Michigan State University Press