Hosted by the UW Rhetoric Program Public Address Conference

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On its 20th anniversary, the conference will return to its site of origin and be held in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 25 to 27, 2008.

Keynote address

Professor John M. Murphy, University of Illinois, "John F. Kennedy and the Liberal Tradition"


The conference will honor Professor Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, University of Minnesota, for her myriad contributions to the field of public address and the study of rhetoric.

Special Event

Lloyd F. Bitzer, professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, will be present as we contemplate "The Rhetorical Situation" on the fortieth annivarsary of its publication.


The Historical Monument of the American RepublicPresenters and conference participants will reflect on the theme "Representing the Republic.” American painter Erastus Salisbury Field did just that at the end of the nineteenth century in his heralded painting completed in 1888, “The Historical Monument of the American Republic." Consuming a 150-square-foot canvas, this “sermon in paint” charts events from the first settlement at Jamestown to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. Employing a jeremiadic rhetoric characteristic of mid-century Northern Congregationalists yet amazingly futuristic in its depiction of architectural structures, Field preached on major moments and challenges to the republic. Portrayed prominently are the Revolutionary War, the crisis of slavery, Lincoln and his assassination, Reconstruction and the fear of disunion, moral womanhood, westward expansion, empire, and technological innovation. Field’s masterwork, then, offers a provocative visual representation of events, issues, and lines of analysis invited by the conference theme “Representing the Republic.” 

Red State, Blue StateAt this moment in history the promise of the republic is increasingly open to question. The red-state, blue-state nation (dare we say “United” States?) faces yet another highly divisive presidential election. And controversy rages over whether to conserve the sovereignty of nations or to embrace a cosmopolitan ethos. These and other issues warrant our attention. Likewise, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Public Address Conference, we are moved to ask how the practice, theory, and criticism of public address have represented the formation, contours, and power of “the republic.” What lessons do historical and contemporary practices of public address teach about the conditions, performance, and limits of a republic’s expressed commitment to political representation?

Presenters and discussants will explore the nature and impact of representation in electoral politics; the aesthetics of political representation; the relationship between republicanism and religious rhetoric; images of race, sexuality, and citizenship in the American republic; the impact of new media on discourses of republicanism; and the future of republican rhetorics in a global context.

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Last updated: September 22, 2008 10:12 AM
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