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University Relations

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Oct. 6, 2008
Contact: Kristi Henderson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (785) 864-3663.

Professorís presentation decodes campaign rhetoric

LAWRENCE — With less than a month until the presidential election, slogans from both campaigns are hard to miss. But as voters become inundated with these messages, it can also be hard to comprehend the deeper meaning behind the mottoes.

To help voters, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas will present an examination of the campaigns’ rhetoric as part of its CLAS ACTS series. On Oct. 12, with one presidential debate left, KU’s Robert Rowland will offer his expertise during “The Audacity of Hope or a Maverick You Can Trust.” Whether attendees support Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain, they are sure to find Rowland’s presentation engaging. The event takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. at Spooner Hall, across the street from the Natural History Museum.

Rowland, who is a professor of communication studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has extensive experience in rhetoric and political messages. He has worked with seven candidates for Congress on developing persuasive messages, as well as a number of other candidates for state offices.

“I have an abiding interest in the rhetoric of presidential campaigns and have followed them for many years,” Rowland says.

Using clips of campaign ads and his own dynamic speaking style, Rowland will examine the tools the Obama and McCain campaigns use to influence voters. He will evaluate the underlying messages of the campaigns’ slogans and how effectively those messages are being conveyed. He will also engage the audience in a question and answer session.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to register to vote in this historic presidential election. In addition, campaign paraphernalia for both candidates will be available.

Seating for the presentation is limited. Free tickets are available at 200 Strong Hall; the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.; or via e-mail. Contact Jessica Beeson, or 864-1767, for more information.

This is the second of eight CLAS ACTS presentations, which aim to educate, entertain and engage the community. The first CLAS ACTS presentation, “My Life with the Hubble Space Telescope,” given by KU’s only astronaut professor, Steve Hawley, drew more than 150 attendees last month. Hawley fascinated the crowd with his behind-the scenes perspective on NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope missions. CLAS ACTS is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and co-hosted by the Commons.

The remaining presentations will touch on a wide range of subjects, reflecting the diversity of programs and faculty within the College. Topics include monsters, immigration policies, a geography trivia challenge and children’s nutrition. All programs take place on Sundays. More information is available at


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