Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
from the publisher:
This is a new look at the sources of one of history's great speeches. While it has long been determined that Abraham Lincoln's writings were influenced by the King James Bible, until now no full-length study has shown the precise ways in which the Gettysburg Address uses its specific language. Refuting the view that the address was crafted with traditional classical references, this revealing investigation provides a new way to think about the speech and the man who wrote it. A. E. Elmore offers chapter and verse evidence from the Bible as well as specific examples from the "Episcopal Book of Common Prayer" to illustrate how Lincoln borrowed from these sources to imbue his speech with meanings that would resonate with his listeners. He cites every significant word and phrase - conceived, brought forth, struggled, remaining, consecrate, dedicate, hallow, devotion, new birth, to name a few - borrowed by Lincoln from these two religious texts for use in his dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Elmore demonstrates how Lincoln transformed the lovely old language of the Bible and the "Book of Common Prayer" into something as close to classical perfection as any public speech has ever achieved. He further reveals how Lincoln used the language of his political and military enemies to promote his antislavery agenda and to advance the gospel of equality originally set forth in the Declaration of Independence. "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address" focuses on a number of overlooked themes and ideas, such as the importance of literary allusion and the general public's knowledge of the Bible in the age of Lincoln. It provides fresh answers to old questions and poses new ones. No one who reads this highly engaging study will ever think about Lincoln or the Gettysburg Address the same way again.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Is there an echo of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, from the speech near the end of the novel when the son says goodbye to his mother? --
"Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why, I'll be there."
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 28
Here is the president's echo. President Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at Memorial Service at Fort Hood,” Fort Hood - III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas. 10 November 2008:
But here is what you must also know: Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- that is their legacy.
And there were echoes of Lincoln at Gettysburg and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's War Message of December 8, 1941:
We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it. We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm’s way.
We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes. We're a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God. We're a nation that is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal. We live that truth within our military, and see it in the varied backgrounds of those we lay to rest today. We defend that truth at home and abroad, and we know that Americans will always be found on the side of liberty and equality. That's who we are as a people.
Andrew B. Whitford and Jeff Yates, Presidential Rhetoric and the Public Agenda: Constructing the War on Drugs (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).
from the publisher:
The bully pulpit is one of the modern president's most powerful tools -- and one of the most elusive to measure. Presidential Rhetoric and the Public Agenda uses the war on drugs as a case study to explore whether and how a president's public statements affect the formation and carrying out of policy in the United States.
When in June 1971 President Richard M. Nixon initiated the modern war on drugs, he did so with rhetorical flourish and force, setting in motion a federal policy that has been largely followed for more than three decades. Using qualitative and quantitative measurements, Andrew B. Whitford and Jeff Yates examine presidential proclamations about battling illicit drug use and their effect on the enforcement of anti—drug laws at the national, state, and local level. They analyze specific pronouncements and the social and political contexts in which they are made; examine the relationship between presidential leadership in the war on drugs and the policy agenda of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorneys; and assess how closely a president's drug policy is implemented in local jurisdictions.
In evaluating the data, this sophisticated study of presidential leadership shows clearly that with careful consideration of issues and pronouncements a president can effectively harness the bully pulpit to drive policy.
"Original and important. Presidential Rhetoric and the Public Agenda is a well—conceived contribution to the literature on the rhetorical presidency and bureaucratic action." -- Andrew Rudalevige, Dickinson College
"President Nixon announced the war on drugs forty years ago, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote that 'it appears that drugs have won.' In their careful analysis in this important book, Whitford and Yates demonstrate that the rhetoric of presidents can influence the course of public policy, particularly including implementation. Words matter, even in the supposedly technical aspects of policy implementation, and they do so in a way that frames and, yes, 'constructs' the policy itself." -- Bryan D. Jones, The University of Texas at Austin
"Whitford and Yates make a strong case for the proposition that presidents can, and do, use public rhetoric to affect how policy is implemented by executive agencies. Whereas most previous studies of presidential rhetoric have focused on appeals made to the mass public, they focus on the effects of public speeches on field agents charged with implementing policy. That such an effect might exist is not obvious. Nonetheless, their argument is nuanced and well—crafted and their evidence -- both qualitative and quantitative -- is compelling. The end result is a thought—provoking study that challenges standard views of executive power. I have no doubt that this book will become required reading for all students of the presidency and the bureaucracy." -- Kevin Quinn, Harvard UniversityAndrew B. Whitford is a professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs. Jeff Yates is a professor of political science at Binghamton University and the author of Popular Justice: Presidential Prestige and Executive Success in the Supreme Court.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Penn Stater celebrates 'Men of '47'
A new article in The Penn Stater magazine tells the story of the unheralded 1946 and 1947 Nittany Lion football squads -- two teams that helped establish Penn State nationally as a top program and, more importantly, made the University a key factor in the nation's slow march to racial justice. The men who made up those two teams are widely thought to have inspired the University's iconic "We Are..." chant. Read more, and download a copy of the story from the magazine's November-December issue, at The Penn Stater blog: http://tinyurl.com/yzrp5ua online.
Earlier this year, Penn State Live also paid tribute to the teams. Watch the story of the "game that wasn't," when the entire Penn State football team refused to play at the segregated Orange Bowl in 1946, at http://live.psu.edu/youtube/
OoCbPyPlflsonline. Hear from Wally Triplett himself, talking about being first African-American to play in the Cotton Bowl in 1947, at http://live.psu.edu/youtube/ OMB9ME4lCF8online.
Read the full story on Live: http://live.psu.edu/story/
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Table Of Contents (from SUNY Press)
1. Introduction: Active Voices
Patricia Malesh and Sharon McKenzie Stevens
PART I A New Rhetoric for Social Change:Theories
2. Vernacular Rhetoric and Social Movements: Performances of Resistance in the Rhetoric of the Everyday
Gerard A. Hauser and erin daina mcclellan
3. Dreaming to Change Our Situation: Reconfiguring the Exigence for Student Writing
Sharon McKenzie Stevens
PART II Public Rhetorics: Analyses
4. Disorderly Women: Appropriating the Power Tools in Civic Discourses
Moira K. Amado-Miller
5. The Progressive Education Movement: A Case Study in Coalition Politics
Brian Jackson and Thomas P. Miller
6. Giving Voice to a Movement: ... Letter to the New Left ... and the Potential of History
7. Sharing Our Recipes: Vegan Conversion Narratives as Social Praxis
PART III Changing Spaces for Learning: Actions
8. Moving Students into Social Movements: Prisoner Reentry and the Research Paper
9. Engaging Globalization through Local Community Activism: A Model for Activist Pedagogical Practice
Anne Marie Todd
10. Co-Creating Spaces for Community: Radical Identities and Collective Praxis
Mary Ann Cain
11. Politics, Class, and Social Movement People: Continuing the Conversation
Notes on Contributors
APA's web site for the Manual is here.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This banner ad by Pennsylvania Republicans ran last week. Does the party of ideas really think President Obama is a Communist. No, it was just a little, you know, like, well, heh-heh, attempt to take advantage of people's anger over government.
It's peculiar how fast the national attention seems to move these days. In August, such strange symbols seemed to have their day; now they seem rootless.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Ann Gerhart, "In Today's Viral World, Who Keeps a Civil Tongue?" Washington Post, 11 October 2009.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
ROME — A day after Italy’s highest court overturned a law granting him immunity from prosecution while in office, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday called corruption charges against him “absurd” and said his government would “forge ahead calmly.”This saga has been going on for a long while. When corruption charges were brought against Sylvio Berlusconi soon after he first took office years ago, he simply instructed the parliament to pass a law declaring him immune. Matters move slowly, and back and forth, in the Italian courts, so this newest development may come to nothing.
Rachel Donadio, "Despite Charges, Berlusconi Vows to 'Forge Ahead,'"New York Times, 8 October 2009.
The BBC News story is here.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Live Webcast: Briefing on Health Care Reform
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Watch the live webcast:
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
News Coverage of Health Reform—Metanarratives and the Missing Narratives
David Broder, The Washington Post
Linda Douglass, White House Office of Health Reform, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC News
Moderated by Alex S. Jones, Joan Shorenstein Center
10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Health Reform: Public Opinion, Polling, Ad Campaigns and Grassroots Mobilization
Robert Blendon, Harvard University
Theda Skocpol, Harvard University
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania
Moderated by Alex S. Jones, Joan Shorenstein Center
Newseum, Washington, D. C.
To receive an RSS feed for the Shorenstein Center’s calendar of events, click here.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Congress has a long and storied culture of apology, to go along with its long and storied culture of insult — and . . . the two traditions are inextricably bound together. . . .
By publicly apologizing to his colleagues, a congressman not only paid obeisance to the dignity and order of the House or Senate, but he also upheld the civility of Congressional proceedings as a whole. This sentiment was perhaps explained best by Senator Louis McLane, a Jacksonian from Delaware, in an 1828 debate over the vice president’s right to call men to order. Written parliamentary rules were useful, he said, but the Senate’s tradition of “liberal comity” was “more efficient than any written rule.” What would preserve the Senate was “the great moral influence of the power of the body for its own preservation.” For this reason, the Congressional culture of insult was necessarily accompanied by one of apology. Whether it exists today remains an open question.
Joanne B. Freeman, "Joe Wilson's War," New York Times, 18 September 2009.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
RAISING A QUESTION OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THE HOUSE
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of the privileges of the House.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the resolution.
The Clerk read as follows:H. RES. 744
Whereas on September 9, 2009, during the joint session of Congress convened pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 179, the President of the United States, speaking at the invitation of the House and Senate, had his remarks interrupted by the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson; and Whereas the conduct of the Representative from South Carolina was a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, during the joint session of Congress held on September 9, 2009.
The full debate may be read in the Congressional Record. On the search page, type "Joe Wilson" and look for September 15, 2009, among the search results. This will take you to the text or pdf versions of the debate.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Linda Campbell of the Fort Worth Star Telegram has written a variation on the "I want my country back" commonplace.
I want my country back.
The one where a message of personal responsibility and the value of a good education is celebrated, not denigrated with suspicion and hostility. . . .
Linda Campbell, "Can We Please Act Like the United States?" Fort Worth Star Telegram, 9 September 2009.
Even Campbell would probably admit -- as a rhetorical critic must -- that the United States has often entertained furies of uncivil rhetoric. The current rage at President Obama on the part of a right wing lunatic fringe carries the occasional national carnival of partisan hysteria to shocking lengths, even among some otherwise presumably responsible adults.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 9, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS
ON HEALTH CARE
8:16 P.M. EDT
President Barack Obama
Address to Congress on Health Care
September 9, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wilson's heckling is rightly regarded as beyond the pale, and his apology came only after the Republican leadership, seeing how idiotic this made them look, insisted to him that he apologize--which he did in a message to the president's chief of staff. The president, typically, forgave him. Wilson continued to excuse and justify his act to the press--insisting that he spoke spontaneously (the righteous reaction of a virtuous patriot!), and, after all, he tells the press, although President Obama was technically correct that the health care bills so far passed prohibit enrollment by illegal aliens, Wilson thinks the preventive resources are not sufficiently harsh.
Such justifications bring discredit upon Wilson and his cause--are in fact a declaration of the bullying resentments of a displaced and disgraced minority groaning at its own impotence--declaring that impotence by its tantrums. At least that's the way I read the most likely rhetorical response to Wilson's actions. True believers, of course, will think otherwise, asking the rest of us to regard their shouting as a sign of deep sincerity. Perhaps it is. Is it the rule that they would like us all to live by?
Wilson appears to be hearing about this from his constituents--at least he was until the outpouring apparently overwhelmed his Congressional web site. Here's how it looks at the moment:
Due to exceptionally high traffic, this site is temporarily unavailable.
Please come back shortly.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S apparent readiness to backtrack on the public insurance option in his health care package is not just a concession to his political opponents — this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead.
This was not true of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congresses that enacted the New Deal. With the exception of the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 (which gave the president authority to close the nation’s banks and which passed the House of Representatives unanimously), the principal legislative innovations of the 1930s were enacted over the vigorous opposition of a deeply entrenched minority. Majority rule, as Roosevelt saw it, did not require his opponents’ permission. . . .
Jean Edward Smith, "Roosevelt: The Great Divider," New York Times, 2 September 2009.
see also Jean Edward Smith, FDR (New York: Random House, 2007). See Jonathan Yardley's review in the Washington Post.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
According to Wolfram|Alpha, the United States received 23.89 million visitors in 2007. These visitors generated 30.01 million hotel nights of business.
Wolfram|Alpha reports that Italy had 70.27 million visitors -- that's in one year. The population of Italy is 58.9 million people.
Do you know Wolfram | Alpha? It is a tremendously interesting knowledge web site, truly addictive.
Monday, August 31, 2009
This item appeared in today's Penn State Newswire, our online in-house newsletter:
9. Researchers seek 'least playful' adults to participate in survey
Xiangyou (Sharon) Shen, a doctoral student in the Department of Recreation, is seeking participants for an online survey regarding "adult playfulness." Think of the least playful person you know, excluding yourself, and have them take the eight to 10 minute survey at
aspx?sm=online. The LJKvBJeZDnFqNgyAMhu6Eg_3d_3d
password for the survey is 'lg'. For more information, contact Shen via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did this one get past the IRB committee? A playful person could have a lot of fun with this.
People should have no illusions about the brutal injustice of the death penalty after all of the exonerations in recent years from DNA evidence, but the case of Cameron Todd Willingham is still shocking.
Mr. Willingham was executed for setting a fire that killed his 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old twins, but a fire expert hired by the State of Texas has issued a report casting enormous doubt on whether the fire was arson at all. The Willingham investigation, which is continuing, is further evidence that the criminal justice system is far too flawed to justify imposing a death penalty.
There are and always will be moral and scientific arguments showing that capital punishment cannot be imposed justly.
For many years it has also seemed to me as a student of rhetoric that capital punishment is incompatible with what we know about the human capacity to make public judgments, which are inevitably the result of, among other things, rhetorical processes. Our capacity to discover what happened in the past is always based on probability, which can be approached only through processes of argument by flawed human beings using systems of persuasion that cannot attain justified certainty. The ultimate extinction of capital punishment simply cannot be justified in light of our limited capacity to know and to communicate what happened and why, and to sort out the moral weight of human action.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Yale University Press removed all the images from a new scholarly book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen. The Press announced, when its action was revealed in a New York Times article, that it had taken the step to forestall possibly violent reactions to any attempt to publish images of the Prophet Muhammad. Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors quickly issued a statement condemning the Press action as a threat to academic freedom.
Jennifer Howard, "Hot Type: Yale U. Press's Attempt to Avoid Risks Has Risks of Its Own," Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 August 2009.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Stanley Fish, "What Should Colleges Teach?" The New York Times, 24August 2009.
Compared to just three years ago, a significantly greater number of today's college teachers consider civic engagement and appreciation of racial and ethnic diversity important educational goals for undergraduates, according to a UCLA report on teaching faculty at the nation's colleges and universities.
The majority of college faculty (55.5 percent) nationwide now consider it "very important" or "essential" to "instill in students a commitment to community service," an increase of 19.1 percentage points since the survey was last conducted in 2004–05, and 75.2 percent indicate that they work to "enhance students' knowledge of and appreciation for other racial/ethnic groups," a gain of 17.6 percentage points over three years.
The report, "The American College Teacher: National Norms for the 2007–08 HERI Faculty Survey," is issued by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, which puts out the national faculty report triennially. . . .
Saturday, August 22, 2009
But watch out.
Not only are the criteria and ratings rather tendentious -- so far as I can tell they are often simply inaccurate. When I learned of the project I visited the site and looked up the rating for the university where I teach -- Penn State University.
ACTA gives Penn State a "D," alleging that we do not require English composition as a graduation requirement -- which is not accurate. They give Penn State only one "yes" rating, for requiring foreign languages. But in fact study of a foreign language is required only for the BA degree -- not for the BS degree. In addition, Penn State requires that students take a writing-intensive course in their major. The Penn State undergraduate degree requirements--admittedly they can be somewhat confusing--are here.
Between the political agenda and the apparently sloppy research, the ACTA ratings don't seem to hold up.
Cornell University is rated "F" -- on the allegation, among others, that they do not offer a required composition course taught by the English department. The first year writing program at Cornell is of long standing and has been a considerable success, taught by instructors not only in English Literature but also in Philosophy, History, Art History, and other disciplines. Cornell in fact requires two first-year writing seminars. The Cornell first year writing program is described at the Cornell site for the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines. The Cornell model may not be for everyone, but it is hard to argue that it is casual or irresponsible.
There is also the question of why so many colleges that attract elite students choose to act in ways that earn them an "F" in the ACTA ratings. Perhaps a simple set of required courses is not the golden key to a great college education.
ACTA is not rating undergraduate education but awarding grades based on an arbitrary and tendentious set of criteria -- inaccurately applied.
For a fascinating essay on the history of English studies, do have a look at William Riley Parker, "Where Do English Departments Come From?" Association of Departments of English Bulletin 11 (1967): 8-17. The essay is reprinted in an immensely useful new anthology, The Norton Book of Composition Studies, ed. Susan Miller (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009), 3-16.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Senator Arlen Specter held a town hall meeting on health care at Penn State's conference center hotel on August 12. The video here, presented by the Penn State student newspaper, the Daily Collegian, is from that meeting. An accompanying story is here.
By all reports, Specter has been handling the angry shouters who have come to his town halls this month, as they have come to those of other Democratic members of Congress, with considerable skill and fortitude. He insists that the protesters have a right to be heard, and he moves close to them as they ask their questions, rather than shrinking away, as we would all be tempted to do, or himself rising in anger, as we might also be tempted to do.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
In his general approach to health care reform, President Obama set out broad principles that he hoped would form the Congressional agenda, rather than sending a bill prepared in advance by the administration. Whether this was a largely tactical attempt to separate this round of health care from the failed Clinton plan is not clear. In some ways the President's approach seemed to hark back to the Constitutional system depicted by Jeffrey Tulis as preceding what he called The Rhetorical Presidency, in which, Tulis claimed, presidents spoke over the heads of Congress and thus short-circuited the process of Congressional deliberation.
On the other hand, the Obama White House has been using various organizing and communication tactics that bring to the White House a new level of direct citizen appeals. See, for example, the "Health Insurance Reform Reality Check" site at the White House. The site comes complete with links to post to email and Facebook and to connect to the White House Facebook and Twitter services. Whatever our views of the importance of health care reform -- I'm all for it -- this is a peculiar development and in some ways a worrying one.
The site keeps the list brief and pointed, and seems clearly designed to be forwarded, and to serve as ammunition in conversation and debate.
Meanwhile Senator Arlen Specter is in town today for another health care town hall -- early reports indicate that it, too, was interrupted by shouters.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to deal with this charge that's out there. Gail Wilensky, to you first, this so-called euthanasia charge, that there's something in this proposal that will have somebody from the government go visit people and say, "You must decide right now how you're going to die." What's the truth of that?
GAIL WILENSKY, Project HOPE: That is just not true. . . . This is not a right characterization.
What has been proposed is that, if someone wants to get counseling on hospice care, hospice care itself is, of course, a covered Medicare benefit. They would be able to have the physician or other practitioner paid for the counseling.The idea is for people to be able to make known how they would like to be treated in the event of a terminal illness. We have advance directives now. It was actually first raised when I was running the Medicare program. If you go in to the hospital or a nursing home, you are supposed to be asked whether you have an advance directive and, if so, have it noted. . . .
It's an interesting question of public communication how this sort of sensible analysis could find its way into the hysterical atmosphere created by the angry mobs that have disrupted town hall meetings. And of course, that is their point.