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Trained Capacities

John Dewey, Rhetoric, and Democratic Practice

Brian Jackson

Publication Year: 2014

The essays in this collection, written by sixteen scholars in rhetoric and communications studies, demonstrate American philosopher John Dewey’s wide-ranging influence on rhetoric in an intellectual tradition that addresses the national culture’s fundamental conflicts between self and society, freedom and responsibility, and individual advancement and the common good. Editors Brian Jackson and Gregory Clark propose that this influence is at work both in theoretical foundations, such as science, pragmatism, and religion, and in Dewey’s debates with other public intellectuals such as Jane Addams, Walter Lippmann, James Baldwin, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Jackson and Clark seek to establish Dewey as an essential source for those engaged in teaching others how to compose timely, appropriate, useful, and eloquent responses to the diverse and often-contentious rhetorical situations that develop in a democratic culture. They contend that there is more at stake than instruction in traditional modes of public discourse because democratic culture encompasses a variety of situations, private or public, civic or professional, where people must cooperate in the work of advancing a common project. What prepares people to intervene constructively in such situations is instruction in those rhetorical practices of democratic interaction that is implicit throughout Dewey’s work. Dewey's writing provides a rich framework on which a distinctly American tradition of a democratic rhetorical practice can be built—a tradition that combines the most useful concepts of classical rhetoric with those of modern progressive civic engagement. Jackson and Clark believe Dewey’s practice takes rhetoric beyond the traditional emphasis on political democracy to provide connections to rich veins of American thought such as individualism, liberalism, progressive education, collectivism, pragmatism, and postindustrial science and communication. They frame Dewey’s voluminous work as constituting a modern expression of continuing education for the “trained capacities” required to participate in democratic culture. For Dewey human potential is best realized in the free flow of artful communication among the individuals who together constitute society. The book concludes with an afterword by Gerard A. Hauser, College Professor of Distinction in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Series: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: John Dewey and the Rhetoric of Democratic Culture

Brian Jackson and Gregory Clark

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pp. 1-24

Every once in a while, long-dead and oft-forgotten philosophers rise from their graves and walk their way into public conversations. Take John Dewey, for instance. In the spring of 2010 a group of concerned parents in a school district not far from where we both live gathered to oppose what they thought was a socialist education...

Part I: Dewey and Democratic Practice—Science, Pragmatism, Religion

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Dewey on Science, Deliberation, and the Sociology of Rhetoric

William Keith and Robert Danisch

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pp. 27-46

John Dewey’s career-long exposition of and commitment to democratic culture still commands praise and admiration. Contemporary philosophers, social theorists, historians, and others committed to pragmatism still commend Dewey’s faith in the democratic experience. Richard Rorty, Cornel West, and Robert Westbrook, to...

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John Dewey, Kenneth Burke, and the Role of Orientation in Rhetoric

Scott R. Stroud

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pp. 47-64

As a practicing orator or rhetorician, John Dewey seemed an abject failure. Regardless of the prescience of his ideas, his speaking ability was often dull and far from captivating. It transcended mere responses of apathy, as it was good-naturedly ribbed in the national forum of Time: “To his classes he lectured in a monotonous...

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Minister of Democracy: John Dewey, Religious Rhetoric, and the Great Community

Paul Stob

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pp. 65-84

In October 1921 William Jennings Bryan launched an aggressive campaign against Darwinism—a campaign that would eventually lead him to the witness stand in the Scopes Trial (Larson 41–59). Delivering the James Sprunt Lectures at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, Bryan took aim at “a menace to fundamental morality.”...

Part II: Dewey and His Interlocutors—Thomas Jefferson, Jane Addams, W. E. B. Du Bois, Walter Lippmann, James Baldwin

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Dewey on Jefferson: Reiterating Democratic Faith in Times of War

Jeremy Engels

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pp. 87-105

As rhetorical theorists, we often conflate the practice of rhetoric with its theorizing. It is one thing to ask how a particular writer practices rhetoric; it is another thing altogether to ask if that writer has a theory of rhetoric—if that author thinks self-reflexively enough about his or her rhetorical practice to articulate principles for...

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John Dewey and Jane Addams Debate War

Louise W. Knight

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pp. 106-124

In the introduction to this collection the editors observe that John Dewey’s work as a professional philosopher has served as “a well that rhetorical scholars draw from when they study rhetoric as the constitutive democratic practice.” More specifically, his theory that democracy is a way of life suggests that the performance of rhetoric...

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John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois, and a Rhetoric of Education

Keith Gilyard

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pp. 125-141

John Dewey’s conception of democratic culture and of the attendant traits of fair play, dialogic deliberation, and social equality floated above his underlying sense of the productive possibilities of rhetoric. Of course rhetorical practice of some kind will obtain in any instance and help to instantiate any number of ends, some...

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Walter Lippmann, the Indispensable Opposition

Jean Goodwin

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pp. 142-158

Every hero must have his antagonist, and for John Dewey, theorist of democratic communication, that role has long been played by Walter Lippmann of the Lippmann-Dewey debate. Pessimistic, where Dewey was optimistic; concerned to remove decision-making from a feeble public to a technocratic elite, where Dewey...

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“‘All safety is an illusion”: John Dewey, James Baldwin, and the Democratic Practice of Public Critique

Walton Muyumba

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pp. 159-174

At the beginning of the bicentennial year 1976, though his cultural stardom had cooled, James Baldwin still practiced an intense, daring public intellectualism. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed entitled “A Challenge to Bicentennial Candidates,” Baldwin urges the potential Republican and Democratic candidates to face the nation’s...

Part III: Dewey as Teacher of Rhetoric

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Rhetoric and Dewey’s Experimental Pedagogy

Nathan Crick

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pp. 177-193

In John Dewey’s reading of Greek history, the Greek Sophists emerge as the first practitioners of democratic experimental pedagogy. Referring to them as “the first body of professional educators in Europe,” he treats the Sophists as “symptoms of the change from the regime of custom to the regime of analysis and reflective...

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The Art of the Inartistic, in Publics Digital or Otherwise

Brian Jackson, Meridith Reed, and Jeff Swift

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pp. 194-215

As we write this essay, the various digital publics are buzzing over a birth certificate. On April 27, 2011, in response to continual accusations that he was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii, President Barack Obama posted his “long-form birth certificate,” a tout le monde, on the White House’s official Web site (“President Obama’s”)....

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Dewey’s Progressive Pedagogy for Rhetorical Instruction: Teaching Argument in a Nonfoundational Framework

Donald C. Jones

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pp. 216-232

I first read Experience and Education while I was an undergraduate student, and I found that Dewey explained many of the frustrations I had felt back in high school. I was one of those students who loved to read, but I was completely turned off, for instance, when I was told that we would be reading Shakespeare because he had...

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Afterword: The Possibilities for Dewey amid the Angst of Paradigm Change

Gerard A. Hauser

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pp. 233-248

In his lectures on biopolitics, Foucault discusses the advent of new problems confronting the state, beginning with the rise of industrialization in the seventeenth century and the accompanying mass migration of populations into urban centers. Hoards of people living in close proximity, no longer sustaining themselves through...


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pp. 249-252


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pp. 253-270

E-ISBN-13: 9781611173192
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611173185

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 873808300
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Trained Capacities