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David Zarefsky to Deliver Twenty-Third Annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric

David Zarefsky headshot

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is pleased to announce the twenty-third annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric, featuring David Zarefsky, Owen L. Coon Professor Emeritus of Argumentation and Debate and Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. His talk, “Somehow, May, and If: Key Terms in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address,” will be held Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in Foster Auditorium in the Paterno Library, University Park Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Abstract: Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address has been called his greatest speech. Yet the speech violates both the conventions of the genre and the likely expectations of the audience, since it addresses neither the progress of the war nor Reconstruction. How can this be, and what does Lincoln do instead? He addresses three main questions: (1) What caused the war? (2) Who is to blame? (3) Why has it been so brutal? In each case he almost arrives at an answer, only to use a hedging term to distance himself from that answer. Leaving the questions in limbo affects Lincoln’s view of what the next steps should be. The lecture will explore these issues, illustrating the value of Kenneth Burke’s advice to notice “what goes with what” and “what opposes what.”

David Zarefsky is the Owen L. Coon Professor Emeritus of Argumentation and Debate, and Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies, at Northwestern University, where he served as Dean of the School of Speech from 1988 through June 2000. He retired from the full-time faculty and achieved Emeritus status in 2009. His research and teaching are in the areas of rhetorical history and criticism, argumentation and debate, and forensics.  He is the author, co-author, or editor of nine books and the author of over 100 articles in professional journals.  His most recent book is Political Argumentation in the United States (John Benjamins, 2014), a collection of essays.  Two of his books have won the Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, an award of the National Communication Association: President Johnson’s War on Poverty: Rhetoric and History (University of Alabama Press, 1986) and Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: In the Crucible of Public Debate (University of Chicago Press, 1990).  He is one of only four individuals to have won this award twice.  In 1994 he was named to the ranks of NCA Distinguished Scholars.  He has served as president of both the National Communication Association and the Rhetoric Society of America.


Co-sponsors of the Twenty-Third Annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric include: George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Schreyer Honors College, and University Libraries