KU News Release

October 11, 2012
Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, 785-864-7822

Professor to assess Obama’s rhetoric in Humanities Lecture Series

Robin Rowland

LAWRENCE — Robin Rowland, University of Kansas professor of communication studies, will present "From Hope to Audacity: The Evolution of President Barack Obama’s Rhetoric and the 2012 Presidential Election.”

The event will be 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in the Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. It is part of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2012-2013 Humanities Lecture Series and is sponsored by the Friends of the Hall Center. The event is free and open to the public.

President Obama built a reputation as the most eloquent public leader since Ronald Reagan, beginning with his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and culminating with a series of moving addresses in the 2008 presidential campaign, in which he promised to bring hope and real change. But as president, Obama has faced both a devastating economic crisis and intractable opposition, leaving some to conclude that he had lost his rhetorical magic. His recent debates with former Gov. Mitt Romney have received mixed reviews from the public.

Rowland will argue that Obama's rhetoric has not faded, but evolved: The arc has moved from impassioned appeals that created a new sense of hope,to an audacious call to reaffirm basic fairness in American economic life and therefore save the American Dream.

Rowland also is director of graduate studies of communication studies at KU. He has published three books, including “Shared Land/Conflicting Identity: Symbolic Trajectories of Israeli and Palestinian Symbol Use (with David Frank, Michigan State University Press, 2002), which won the top national award for rhetorical criticism, the Kohrs-Campbell Prize, as well as more than 80 articles and book chapters.

Rowland has received a number of significant teaching awards at KU, including the W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Louise E. Byrd Graduate Educator Award, the H. Bernerd Fink Award for Outstanding Classroom Teaching, The Byron Alexander Graduate Mentor Award and twice the J. Michael Young Academic Advisor Award.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Henry Louis Gates Jr., Mary Oliver and T.R. Reid. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on other lectures in the 2012-2013 series, visit the Hall Center website.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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