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Rhetoric and Democratic Citizenship: A colloquy in honor of William Norwood Brigance


This colloquy will bring a select group of rhetorical scholars together to examine the role of rhetorical studies and the practice of rhetoric in a democratic society. In addition, the meeting will address issues related to the most appropriate pedagogical strategies for preparing students for citizenship in a democratic society. A total of 16 rhetorical scholars will participate in the spring 2005 meeting. Eleven scholars will prepare essays related to the colloquy theme while three additional scholars will make public presentations. Additional rhetorical studies scholars, interested alumni, and students are welcome to attend the keynote address, the colloquy banquet, and the sessions on the Brigance Legacy on Saturday morning.

William N. Brigance established a well-known legacy in the Communication discipline as a promoter and advocate for the role of public speech in a free and democratic society. In addition, he played a seminal role in the development of the discipline in the United States. He served as both the editor of the leading journal of the field, the Quarterly Journal of Speech, and the president of what is now the National Communication Association. Brigance authored several influential texts in the field and began the Speakers Bureau, a program that was adopted by scores of institutions across the country. Students in the Speakers Bureau constructed addresses, which they presented to political, social, and business organizations in their local communities. In sum, Brigance charted a path in the orator-statesman tradition through the close connection he made between rhetorical practice and a free, democratic society. As he wrote, "… speechmaking in the beginning grew out of man’s first attempts at self-government, that it is inherent in a free society, that a course in speech ought to be based on this concept, and speech training in a free society ought to be recognized as being essentially at variance with that in countries where governments are sustained by thought control." [1] It is this connection between rhetoric and democratic citizenship which this colloquy will honor and extend.

The colloquy will take place on the campus of Wabash College at the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and other campus venues. The mission of the Center of Inquiry is to explore, test, and promote liberal arts education (

1.  Brigance, William Norwood. (1952, 1st ed.) Speech: Its Techniques and Disciplines in a Free Society, p. vii. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Participants Institution
Roger Billings Wabash College '59
Denise M. Bostdorff College of Wooster
Cara A. Finnegan University of Illinois
G. Thomas Goodnight University of Southern California
Robert Hariman Northwestern University
Stephen J. Hartnett University of Illinois
Gerard A. Hauser University of Colorado
James A. Herrick Hope College
J. Michael Hogan Penn State University
Robert L. Ivie Indiana University
John Louis Lucaites Indiana University
Todd F. McDorman Wabash College, Facilitator
Martin J. Medhurst Baylor University
David Moscowitz Wabash College, Facilitator
Shawn J. Parry-Giles Maryland University
David M. Timmerman Wabash College, Facilitator
Jennifer Young Abbott Wabash College
David Zarefsky Northwestern University


Thursday, April 14th

5.30 - 6.00  Reception, Trippet 3rd floor rotunda
6.00 - 7.30 Senior Dinner with the Brigance Scholars, Wabash College Speech faculty, and Senior Speech majors, Trippet Dining Room
8.00 "Two Faces of Democratic Rhetoric" - Keynote address on Rhetoric and Democratic Citizenship given by Professor David Zarefsky, Fine Arts Bldg., Salter Hall Reception to follow.

Friday, April 15th
Note: The Friday discussion sessions are limited to the visiting Brigance Scholars.

7.30 - 8.30  Breakfast, Trippet Dining Room
9.00 - 10.15       Rhetoric and Democratic Citizenship: A roundtable discussion of the colloquy theme and its meaning, Trippet 325
10.15 - 10.30 Coffee Break
10.30 - 12.15       Session on Rhetoric and Democratic Citizenship, Trippet 325
12.15 - 1.15 Lunch, Trippet Dining Room
1.45 - 3.00       Session on Rhetoric and Democratic Citizenship, Trippet 325
3.00 - 3.15 Snack Break available while meetings are in session, Trippet 3rd floor rotunda
3.15 - 4.30 Session on Rhetoric and Democratic Citizenship, Trippet 325
4.30 - 6.00 Free Time
6.00 - 6.30 Reception, Detchon International Hall
6.30 Conference Banquet with the Brigance scholars, Wabash faculty, Wabash Alumni, and other interested scholars. Wabash College Emeritus Professors Vic Powell and Joe O’Rourke will lead a time for stories and anecdotes remembering William N. Brigance, Detchon International Hall

Saturday, April 16th

7.30 - 8.30 Breakfast for Brigance Scholars, interested alumni, and other interested scholars, Trippet Dining Room
8.30 - 9.00    Check Out, Trippet Front Desk
9.00 - 10.30 Keynote address by Martin J. Medhurst, "William Norwood Brigance and the Development of Rhetorical Studies in the 20th Century", Baxter 114
10.30 - 10.45 Coffee Break
10.45 - 12.15 "Speaking Democratically in the Backwash of War: Lessons to Draw from William Norwood Brigance on Citizenship and Rhetoric in a Free Society" - Keynote Address by Robert Ivie,  Baxter 114
12.30 - 1.30 Lunch, Detchon International Hall
1.30 - 2.30 Wrap up session and future planning, Trippet 325
2.30 Departures

Note: Some of the meeting and dining locations may be altered depending on the number of individuals attending the public colloquy sessions.

In order to partially cover costs associated with the Friday banquet, Saturday breakfast, and Saturday lunch, there is a charge of $25 for those who attend. Please make checks payable to Wabash College.

Those wishing to attend should contact Christina Gilbert, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Operations, Center of Inquiry, by email ( or mail and remit payment for the colloquy by March 16, 2005. Please indicate which sessions you will attend so that we can plan accordingly. Also contact Christina Gilbert regarding any dietary restrictions or special requests.

 Christina Gilbert, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Operations
 Trippet Hall
 Wabash College
 P.O. Box 352
 Crawfordsville, IN 47933-0352

For questions and more information please contact:    

Christina Gilbert ( 765-361-6316
Todd McDorman ( 765-361-6183
David Timmerman ( 765-361-6393