• Atheneum & College Present: The Rhetoric of Elections


The Calderwood Writing Initiative at the Boston Athenaeum and the College of Arts and Sciences present Professor Wayne Fields, director of the American Culture Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis, who will discuss “The Rhetoric of Elections: Language and the Making of American Candidates.”

The program will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at Suffolk University’s C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston. Fields’s lecture is free and open to the public

Oratory worth celebrating

The notion of presidential rhetoric can seem a bit esoteric to some people, but Fields, an expert on American political argument who is frequently called upon to comment upon current candidates' speeches, sees it differently.

Fields has drawn from a wealth of speeches, secondary scholarship and political theory to come up with a theory of his own: that presidential oratory is actually worth celebrating.

"The Great Communicator"

He analyzes how we got from Washingtonian rhetoric to Reagan's role as "the great communicator" and the more informal speeches of his successors. And as we prepare to elect a new president, he discusses the big themes we can take away from an election that is sure to be remembered as contentious, historic—and steeped in oratory?

Fields is the author of Union of Words: A History of Political Eloquence, an examination of the use of rhetoric in political speeches from inaugural addresses to executive farewells--and everything in between. He has served as a commentator for National Public Radio, Radio Free Europe, and other television and radio network programs. Fields has been director of the university's American Culture Studies Program, which he helped develop, since 1996.

The Calderwood Writing Initiative at the Boston Athenaeum is dedicated to improving the teaching and practice of expository writing in the greater New England area.


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