Conference looks at art of arguing

The biennial university Argumentation Conference began in November 1982, with a one-day conference on campus. After meeting again on the Wake Forest campus in 1984, the Conference was convened in 1988 in the university’s study abroad facility, Casa Artom, in Venice, Italy.

This overseas event was co-sponsored by the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA). Since 1988 the conference has alternated between the university location in Venice and various sites around the U.S., including Florida Atlantic University.

On March 19-21, the conference was held on campus once again and featured keynote addresses by Carole Blair and William Balthrop from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Lenore Langsdorf from Southern Illinois University, Frans van Eemeren from the University of Amsterdam, and Carol Winkler from Georgia State University.

Carole Blair’s research includes contemporary rhetorical theory and criticism, focusing especially on rhetoric’s crucial role in understanding visual and material phenomena.

Her research delves into the rhetoric of commemorative places and artworks of the American twentieth-century. Currently Blair is working on a project that involves another keynote speaker, William Balthrop.  Blair’s Web site describes the current project in detail: “Over the long term, the aim of the project is to account for changes in how the U.S. nation-state commemorates: Who or what is commemorated: during what periods, under what cultural conditions, and with what civic and political consequences? Our current project is on U.S. memorials built in Europe during the interwar period and marking U.S. participation in World War I.”

Blair has published numerous journal articles and is a contributing editor for a book currently at press titled Places of Public Memory: The Rhetoric of Museums and Memorials. Blair teaches on the graduate and undergraduate levels at UNC-Chapel Hill, including courses such as Rhetorical Criticism, Practicum in Rhetorical Criticism, Rhetorics of Public Memory, Rhetorics of Place, Rhetoric and Social Controversy, and Rhetorics of Public Memory.

In 2009, Blair was named the Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association, an award for career achievement in scholarship.

In addition to the commemoration research with Blair, V. William Balthrop continues research in the discourse of contemporary Southern Heritage groups and the continued construction of a “Southern identity.”  Balthrop also teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill in courses titled “The Southern Experience in Rhetoric” and a seminar on Kenneth Burke. Balthrop recently published an article titled “Discursive Collisions:  A Reading of ‘Ellen’s Energy Adventure’” in Argumentation and Practice by Frans van Eemeren and Peter Houtlossen. Balthrop also serves as the President of the National Communication Association.

Frans van Eemeren is the professor in the department of speech communication, argumentation theory and rhetoric at the University of Amsterdam. He also serves as director of the research program “Argumentation in discourse” of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and program director of the Research Master Program ‘Rhetoric, Argumentation Theory and Philosophy (RAP). His research interests include argumentation theory and rhetorical and dialectical analysis of argumentative discourse. Van Eemeren’s most recent publication is titled Fallacies and Judgments of Reasonableness (2009).

Lenore Langsdorf’s research includes philosophy of communication, argumentation, cultural, and rhetorical theory, Hermeneutic phenomenology and pragmatism as research methods. She is currently a professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Langsdorf’s most recent publication includes a book currently in press titled Callicles’ Parlor: Revisiting the Gorgias after Dwelling with Gadamer, in Perspectives on Philosophy of Communication.

Carol Winkler is an associate dean for the Humanities in the college of arts and sciences and professor of communication at Georgia State University. Winkler’s research interests include presidential foreign policy rhetoric, argumentation and debate, and visual communication. Her newest book, In the Name of Terrorism (2005) traces the behind-the-scenes development of the leadership’s public communication strategies since the Vietnam War in response to terrorism. Winkler has won the National Communication Association’s Visual Communication Commission’s Award for Excellence in Research for her work on linkages between visual images and ideology.

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