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Lecture to address rhetorical constraints Lincoln faced in polarized era


November 6, 2008

Wake Forest University will host a lecture titled “Lincoln: A House Divided” with David Zarefsky, renowned professor of communication studies at Northwestern University at 4 p.m. Nov. 13.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall, Room 111.  A reception will be held immediately following the lecture.   

In the lecture, Zarefsky will explore the rhetorical and political constraints Lincoln faced as he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate and how he constructed his “House Divided” speech.  He opposes the conventional belief that the speech predicted civil war, and he will illustrate this through Lincoln’s creative response to those constraints.

“In an age of political polarization such as we now face, it is valuable to look back to an even more polarized time to see how a masterful politician sought in his speeches to respond to and transcend the deep divisions he faced,” said Zarefsky. “Studying this speech will not only deepen our appreciation of Lincoln, but also yield insight that may help us better deal with our current predicament.”

Zarefsky is past-president of the Rhetoric Society of America and the National Communication Association.  He is the recipient of numerous honors including the Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address and the Keele Award for outstanding service to the debate community.

The event is part of the university’s Great Teachers Lecture Series, an annual series organized by Wake Forest communication students enrolled in the course “Great Teachers” taught by Alessandra Beasley Von Burg, assistant professor of communication.  In the course, students conduct in-depth study of and interact with some of the nation’s top scholars and gain public relations experience. 

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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