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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

CDD Seeks Dissertation Fellows for 2015-2016 School Year

The Center for Democratic Deliberation (CDD) is pleased to announce the 2015-16 Dissertation Fellows Program, in conjunction with the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and the Humanities Initiative Dissertation Release program (see attached for information about other fellow programs in the College of Liberal Arts).  These awards provide a one-semester release from teaching or related service and a research grant to humanities graduate students in CLA who are supported on assistantships. Awardees will have the title of CDD Dissertation Fellow.

CDD Dissertation Fellows will continue to receive their regular assistantship stipend. They will also receive a $1000 research fund provided by the CDD to use for equipment, supplies, travel, or other expenses related to the dissertation project. While the course release is for one semester, the award term is the whole academic year. Under the sponsorship of the CDD, Dissertation Fellows will have access to office space for the academic year in 210 Sparks. They also will participate in a faculty-led Dissertation Writing Group and present their research at a public colloquium during the spring semester.  CDD Fellows are expected to remain in residence at University Park during the period of the Dissertation Fellows Program and to participate in the activities of the Center.

Applicants should send one PDF copy of their application materials to Keshia Kennelley at The deadline for receipt of applications is Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 5pm.

For further information, contact J. Michael Hogan (

Call for 2015 Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric Essay Submissions

Penn State’s Center for Democratic Deliberation offers an annual Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric, awarded to the best essay written by a graduate student in one of Penn State’s liberal arts disciplines on the subject of rhetoric in its many forms—as historical, critical, or theoretical discourse.

Papers might address pedagogical methods or issues; offer textual criticism (“rhetorical analysis”) of significant documents; offer theoretical or historical insights on items in the rhetorical tradition; discuss rhetoric as an organizing principle for English, Communication Studies, the liberal arts or the contemporary university; or consider rhetoric in relation to African-American studies, cultural materialist critiques, feminism, post-colonial criticism, science and technology, etc. Papers written for seminars or conferences, or composed specifically for the Burke Prize, are all welcome. The essays, which should have been composed for the most part during the calendar year, will be judged on the basis of their scholarship, significance, and rhetorical artistry. (Essays submitted previously for the prize should not be resubmitted.) A prize of $500.00 will be awarded to the winning graduate student.

Essays are due Wednesday, April 1. For additional details, and to download the 2015 Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric call for submissions, please click here.