Burke Lecture set for April 18

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 21st annual Kenneth Burke Lecture in Rhetoric will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in 112 Kern Building.

This year's speaker is Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair and Professor of Government at the University of Texas-Austin.

Professor Levinson's talk is titled "Four Tropes of The Federalist: What Meaning Do They Have For Us Today?"

Publius, the putative author of The Federalist, begins by justifying his enterprise through the rhetoric of "reflection and choice" (Federalist 1), moves on to place the actions of the Constitution's drafters within the context of "exigency" or "crisis" (Federalist 40), and then emphasizes the desirability of "venerating" the new Constitution (Federalist 49). At least two central questions suggest themselves and will be the subject of the lecture: First, is there a significant tension among the tropes of reflection, choice, crisis and veneration, or can they be made to mesh with one another? Second, to what extent do we view Publius as writing to us today, and, if we view him as anything other than an historical artifact, do we view the arguments as ones that we should accept today?

Before the lecture, the Center for Democratic Deliberation will also honor the 2013 winner of the Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric, for the best graduate student essay on rhetoric, and the 2013 winners of the Nancy and Joseph Birkle Student Engagement Award. The lecture will be followed by a reception in the Kern lobby.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015