My work focuses on the history and theory of rhetoric and especially on the relation between rhetoric and philosophy, but I am also interested in rhetoric’s other dimensions: its close connection with processes of democratization, ancient and modern; its potential for serving as the core of a liberal arts curriculum; its power to inform the teaching of communication, especially the teaching of writing; its ability to describe how people reason and persuade one another in conditions of uncertainty without resorting to threats or violence; its vast resources for comprehending how poetic language works; and its ability to generate ideals for education and human development.
My first book, The Rhetoric of Reason, developed a rhetorical framework for understanding reason as communication, and it used that framework to re-think the teaching of writing in colleges and universities. My latest book, Deep Rhetoric, focuses on the very idea of rhetoric, and builds a case for understanding rhetoric as a philosophical enterprise that is linked to the practical project of defeating violence and seeking wisdom by developing robust rhetorical capabilities in individuals and conditions of communicative justice in societies.
In addition to my central interest in rhetoric, I am also interested in non-fiction writing about nature and especially in the different ways “nature” comes to presence in different forms of writing and through different media. Here, I have a central concern with the idea of wilderness, something I am inclined to defend. I am also interested in literary theory in a more general way and in the place of rhetoric in that larger critical enterprise. Finally, I have recently found myself reading more and more poetry, and that is surely leading somewhere.
2013. “The Conditions for the Contact of Minds.” International Society for the History of Rhetoric. Chicago, Illinois. July 25.
2013. “Argument in China.” Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation. Windsor, Ontario. May 25.
2013 “Dissociative Capabilities.” Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation. Windsor, Ontario. May 24.
2012. “Shakespeare’s Hamlets.” Seowon University, South Korea. October 31.
2012. “Conflict and Hope: Creating Rhetorical Capabilities.” Joint Meeting of the Chinese Rhetoric Society of the World and the Rhetoric Society of Korea. Incheon University, South Korea. October 27.
2012. Rhetoric: A New Introduction. Seven lectures: September 21: “Rhetoric: Origins and History.” September 24: “Rhetorical Situations.” September 25: “Rhetorical Capabilities.” September 26: “Rhetorical Questioning.” September 27: “Rhetorical Reasoning.” September 27: “The Essentials of Rhetoric” (Shahe Undergraduate Campus). September 28: “A Rhetorical Education.” Invited Lectures, Distinguished Lecturer Series. Beihang University, Beijing, China.
2011. “The Convergence of Law, Rhetoric, and Philosophy in Perelman’s Genoa Lectures.” Meeting of The International Society for the History of Rhetoric. Bologna, Italy. July 21.
2011. Invited Presentation: “The Contact of Minds and Rhetorical Capabilities.” Rhetoric Society of America Institute. University of Colorado. Boulder, Colorado. June 24. (Invited as Institute Workshop leader.)
2011. Invited presentation: “Thinking in Twos: Philosophical Pairs.” Rhetoric Society of America Institute. University of Colorado. Boulder, Colorado. June 25. (Invited as Institute Workshop leader.)
2011. Invited lecture: “Rhetoric, Capabilities, and Freedom.” Peking University. Beijing, China. May 16.
2011. Invited lecture: “Trends in Contemporary Rhetoric.” Peking University. Beijing, China. May 16.
2011. Invited lecture: “The Study of Rhetoric.” Beihang University. Beijing, China. May 15.
2011. Plenary Address: “Rhetoric, Equity, Freedom.” International Advanced Forum on Communication Studies of Language and Rhetoric. Sponsored by the Chinese Rhetoric Society. Peking University. Beijing, China, May 14.
2011. Invited lecture: “Contemporary Rhetorical Studies.” The Communication University of China. Beijing, China. May 13.
2010. Keynote Address: “Rhetorical Universalities.” International Conference on "Cross-cultural Conflicts and the Rhetoric of Communication." Meeting of the Rhetoric Society of Korea. Seoul National University. Seoul, South Korea. October 23.
2010. “What Makes Argumentation Reasonable? Three Accounts.” Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation. University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 12.
2010. “The New Rhetoric Reads Lawrence v. Texas.” Meeting of the Rhetoric Society of America. Minneapolis, May 29.
2010. “The New Rhetoric Project: The Archive.” Meeting of the Rhetoric Society of America. Minneapolis, May 29.
2010. “Toward a Civic Discourse on the Israel-Palestine Conflict: The Point is to Change It.” Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Francisco, March 12.
2013. Deep Rhetoric: Philosophy, Reason, Violence, Justice, Wisdom. University of Chicago Press (424 pages).
2012. “Conflict and Hope: Creating Rhetorical Capabilities.” Proceedings of the Third Biennial Conference of the Chinese Rhetoric Society of the World and the International Conference on Rhetorics. National Research Foundation of Korea and the Institute for the Study of Translation and Rhetoric of Korea University, 43-50.
2011. “Rhetoric, Equity, Freedom.” (Translated into Chinese by Qiao Qian.) Journal of Peking University (Philosophy and Social Sciences) 48:5.
2010. “Universalities.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 43:4, 430-448.
2010. “The New Rhetoric Project.” Introduction to special issue of Philosophy and Rhetoric 43:4, 301-307.
2009. “Deep Rhetoric in Plato’s Gorgias.” Korean Journal of Rhetoric (2009.9), 5-57.
2009. “Giving Friendship: The Perichoresis of an All-Embracing Service.” In Emerson and Thoreau: Figures of Friendship. Ed. William Rossi and John Lysaker. Indiana University Press, 151-171.
2008. “Awakening the Topoi: Sources of Invention in The New Rhetoric’s Argument Model.” Argumentation and Advocacy 44:4, Spring, 169-184. Reprinted in The Promise of Reason. Ed. John Gage. Evanston: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011.