State of the Union

May, 2006

State of the Union (SOTU) provides access to the corpus of all the State of the Union addresses from 1790 to 2010. SOTU allows you to explore how specific words gain and lose prominence over time, and to link to information on the historical context for their use. SOTU focuses on the relationship between individual addresses as compared to the entire collection of addresses, highlighting what is different about the selected document. You are invited to try and understand from this information the connection between politics and language–between the state we are in, and the language which names it and calls it into being.

An accompanying essay describes the gradual changes in political speech from argument to brand. The project asks us to consider if evidence for this assertion exists in the language of the State of the Union address which stands as a controlled sample of political speech over the course of U.S. history.