- In Memoriam: Lloyd Bitzer (1931–2016)
Lloyd Bitzer’s passing came as deeply sad news. He was an exceptional person in all respects. I was fortunate to have been his student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and to have experienced Lloyd in my life as a mentor, a colleague in the discipline, a confidant, a friend, and a role model. The discipline of rhetoric was fortunate to have had him among its ranks as a leading theorist. He was among those most responsible for pushing rhetorical studies into new territory during the latter part of the twentieth century. Lloyd was the principle investigator on and driving force behind the National Developmental Project on Rhetoric, which involved forty scholars from philosophy, rhetoric, communication, English, and sociology at the Wingspread and Pheasant Run conferences at the beginning of the 1970s and which culminated in The Prospect of Rhetoric, the volume he coedited with his colleague Edwin Black. And Philosophy and Rhetoric was fortunate to have him grace its pages with his scholarship and editorial advice. His iconic essay “The Rhetorical Situation” inaugurated the journal in 1968 as the lead article. It set the stage for reconsidering rhetoric in terms of its philosophical commitments.
Lloyd was not a prolific publisher, but each of his articles were gems of careful scholarship and tight reasoning, and they demonstrate an unfailing sense for ideas that matter and an understanding of the impact those ideas could have on future work. His 1959 Quarterly Journal of Speech article “Aristotle’s Enthymeme Revisited” broke new ground by decoupling the form of pisteis Aristotle regarded as the heart of persuasion from its logical form. His 1960 QJS article “A Re-evaluation Campbell’s Doctrine of Evidence” argued that Campbell, in following Hume, had inverted the two-millennial-old Western tradition that established reason as the capital of right action and instead located it in the passions. His subsequent editor’s introduction to the edited republication of Campbell’s Philosophy of Rhetoric and his 1969 Philosophy and Rhetoric article “Hume’s Philosophy in George Campbell’s Philosophy of Rhetoric” meticulously made the case for Hume’s role in introducing rhetoric into the new country wherein its study led to understanding human nature. In 1978, when consideration of the public sphere was just beginning to emerge as a scholarly topic in the literature on rhetoric, Lloyd published his award- winning essay “Rhetoric and Public Knowledge,” in which he considered the necessary conditions for distinguishing between audiences and publics. It was not a coincidence that two years earlier he broke form with the practice of association presidents in the then Speech Communication Association of offering as their presidential address reflections on the discipline when he [End Page vi] presented a version of this paper as his presidential address. His choice was an expression of his belief that presidents of scholarly societies should lead by example of their scholarship.
Lloyd’s presidential address, as much as anything, captured his sense of himself as a scholar and teacher and spoke to what he considered the nobility of his and our work. Studying with him was at once exhilarating, fearsome, calming, and affirming. He was demanding of his students, excited by ideas, not given to tolerating sloppy thinking or unsupported argument, quick to affirm student insights and progress, able to express and inspire confidence in his students’ work, and generous with his time and counsel, always willing to assist his students’ growth and prosperity. My friend Tom Farrell, another of Lloyd’s doctoral students, captured well how lasting an impact our mentor had when, in the prime of our careers, he commented “I still write for Lloyd.” So did I; so do I still.
In May 2015, the Rhetoric Society of America held its biennial summer Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I was filled with anticipation for the event, which is unique in its format and impact on its participants, for being once more in Madison where I had done my doctoral studies, and for the opportunity to spend time with colleagues, former students, and dear friends in the discipline. At the center of my excitement was the dinner date Lloyd...