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Making the Case

Advocacy and Judgment in Public Argument

Kathryn M. Olson

Publication Year: 2012

In an era when the value of the humanities and qualitative inquiry has been questioned in academia and beyond, Making the Case is an engaging and timely collection that brings together a veritable who’s who of public address scholars to illustrate the power of case-based scholarly argument and to demonstrate how critical inquiry into a specific moment speaks to general contexts and theories. Providing both a theoretical framework and a wealth of historically situated texts, Making the Case spans from Homeric Greece to twenty-first-century America. The authors examine the dynamic interplay of texts and their concomitant rhetorical situations by drawing on a number of case studies, including controversial constitutional arguments put forward by activists and presidents in the nineteenth century, inventive economic pivots by Franklin Roosevelt and Alan Greenspan, and the rhetorical trajectory and method of Barack Obama.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Series: Rhetoric & Public Affairs


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

Case studies may be said to reveal a distinctively Aristotelian rhetorical epistemology. By privileging the specificity, timeliness, and granularity of texts, the case study as a critical method displays a productive bias toward judgment, particular knowledge, historical context...

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pp. xv-xvi

With a single exception, the essays in this volume are based on papers originally presented at the conference “Justification, Reason, and Action: Tradition and Innovation in Public Argument” held at Northwestern University in May 2009. The occasion of the...

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Reflections on Making the Case

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pp. 1-15

Making the case is what arguers do. And they often do it in public. The most common understanding of case is that it is a set of reasons and supporting evidence used by an advocate to support or to oppose a claim. A definition similar to this can be found in most...

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The Beginnings of Oratorical Consciousness: Restarting Time in Homer’s Odyssey, The Telemachy

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pp. 17-43

The Iliad and the Odyssey are celebrated as generative works in the development of Western culture.1 The epics are the end-product of a performative oral tradition transforming itself into discourse, the medium of written form; as a result, each exhibits the beginnings...

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Lysander Spooner’s The Unconstitutionality of Slavery: A Case Study in Constitutional Hermeneutics, Ethical Argument, and Practical Reason

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pp. 45-74

Lysander Spooner’s 1845 treatise The Unconstitutionality of Slavery presents rhetorical scholars interested in constitutional argument with an interesting evaluative problem.1 Rhetoricians have long struggled with the problem of critical evaluation. Almost fifty years ago...

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Kind Persuasion: Lincoln’s Temperance Address and the Ethos of Civic Friendship

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pp. 75-93

Writing to his friend Joshua Speed in March 1842, Lincoln implored both Speed and his wife to read his “Temperance speech . . . as an act of charity to me; for I can not learn that any body else has read it, or is likely to.”1 The sincerity of Lincoln’s plea is...

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Andrew Johnson’s Fight for States’ Rights on the Battlements of the Constitution

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pp. 95-126

The extension of civil rights to minorities and women has always been closely linked to differing interpretations of the Constitution by the public, state governments, members of Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court. That interpretive relationship is central to understanding...

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No End Save Victory: FDR and the End of Isolationism, 1936–1941

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pp. 127-160

Franklin D. Roosevelt loved stamps. He began collecting them as a boy and the hobby never left him. When he became president of the United States, he asked the State Department what they did with the foreign envelopes sent to them. He learned they threw most...

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Iraq as a Representative Anecdote for Leadership: Barack Obama’s Address on the Fifth Anniversary of the Iraq War

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pp. 161-189

From the moment that Barack Obama announced he was running for president, his experience—or, rather, lack thereof—was an issue. Obama had worked as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, served seven years in the Illinois State Senate, risen to national...

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Barack Obama’s 2009 Inaugural Address: Narrative Signature and Interpretation

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pp. 191-229

Long after the words of Barack Obama’s inaugural address have passed into memory—a word here, a phrase there, a theme recalled— those who witnessed the ceremony of January 20, 2009, whether in person, on television, or over the Internet, will never forget...

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To Exist, You Need an Ideology: Alan Greenspan on Markets, Crisis, and Democracy

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pp. 231-255

Ideology operates best when it operates invisibly. Often obscuring the role of values and interests in society, ideologies render the particular as universal, decisions as givens, and constructs as natural. The circulation and comparative strength of competing ideologies shape deliberation...


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pp. 257-260

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173449
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860528

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Rhetoric & Public Affairs
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OCLC Number: 815477836
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Making the Case

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political oratory -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Communication in politics -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Persuasion (Rhetoric) -- Political aspects -- Case studies.
  • Rhetoric -- Political aspects -- Case studies.
  • Rhetorical criticism.
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