Graduate students are invited to apply for a one-week seminar on "Rhetoric and the Roots of Modern Political Thought: Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau," which will be offered at Northwestern University, July 9-13, 2007. The seminar, organized by Professors Keith Topper and Dilip Gaonkar, will consist of five days of presentations and discussions led by a distinguished group of visiting faculty, all of whom have made important scholarly contributions to the study of rhetoric and the history of political thought. These faculty will include John McCormick (University of Chicago), Kirstie McClure (UCLA), and Victoria Silver (University of California, Irvine). Each faculty member will deliver an afternoon lecture, lead a seminar discussion on selected readings (assigned in advance) the following morning, and attend a colleague’s presentation that afternoon. The overlapping format enables both student and faculty participants to continue informal scholarly discussion during group lunches and dinners.
This year’s theme will expand and historicize the inquiries that organized our 2006 summer seminar, “Rhetoric, Difference, and Deliberative Democracy.” In that seminar, we explored the significance of rhetoric and difference in recent discussions of deliberative democracy. By contrast, the 2007 summer seminar will investigate from an historical perspective the conjuncture between rhetoric and political theory, looking closely at the work of four political theorists—Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau—who fundamentally altered the development of modern political thought. It is, of course, widely acknowledged that these four figures shaped significantly the contours and evolution of three of most the influential traditions of European political thought, namely, the republican, liberal, and democratic traditions. In addition, their work displays an acute sensitivity to the rhetorical dimensions of political thought and discourse. An examination of the pivotal role and function of rhetoric in their political thought may therefore provide something more than a distinctive entry point for engaging their work; it may also provide a valuable optic that helps to reveal the peculiar trajectory of European political theory from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century and beyond. In so doing, it may further yield important resources for thinking more generally about the complex relationship between language and political agency.
The summer seminar will also provide a platform for developing future work on a variety of closely related themes. These include a major conference that will be held at Northwestern University in May 2008 and an edited book.
The seminar is sponsored by the Center for Global Culture and Communication and the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. The Center will subsidize transportation (up to $250), lodging, and some meals for admitted students. Applicants should send a letter of nomination from their academic advisor, accompanied by a one-page rationale for their participation, to Professor Keith Topper (email@example.com). The deadline for receipt of applications is May 21st. Inquiries should be directed to Sara VanderHaagen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Department of Communication Studies
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