Complete Story

Rhetoric in Society 2009 - Last Minute Call for Papers

Leiden University, The Netherlands, January 21-23, 2009

RHETORIC IN SOCIETY CONFERENCE (Leiden University, The Netherlands, January 21-23, 2009)

Rhetoric in Society 2009 - Last Minute Call for Papers
Second conference
Leiden University, the Netherlands: January 21 - 22 - 23, 2009

The classical rhetoricians already knew the truth: power is the preserve of those who know how to use words. The theory of rhetorical tools was invented in order to advise a speaker to persuade an audience of the legitimacy of a legal or political stance or to praise or blame the famous. Constraints of time, prejudice and sheer noise could interfere with the speech event, and so the orator had to know how to attract and keep attention.

No communication without rhetoric
Nowadays, we know that rhetoric pervades any discourse. There is no communication without rhetoric. The need for rhetorical theory is therefore even more urgent, not only because we want to know how to reach an audience that is overloaded with stimuli, but because we want the audience to be capable of critically evaluating what is addressed to them. In a society with ever increasing amounts of information and with media whose significance cannot be overestimated, we need to know about the mechanisms playing a role in gathering, making and reporting of information and opinions, and how it is processed by an audience.

Extended perspectives and genres
In order to meet these objectives it is necessary that the study of rhetoric be enriched with perspectives and insights from related isciplines such as argumentation theory, discourse analysis, text linguistics and cognition as well as communication and information theory. This recognition has resulted in a vast body of theoretical discussions on the relation between rhetoric, argumentation and discourse as well as in the emergence of empirical research of different kinds, and in many analytical studies in which persuasive means in a speech event have been established.

Twenty-first century rhetoric
The traditional genres have been extended to all kinds of other discourse events, from public relations texts and advertisements to mediated discourse, organizational communication and scientific texts. Nowadays developments in new media and the impact on society of e-mail, e-zines, digital discussion fora, blogs, civil journalism and the use of internet in all parts of daily life have thrown new light on the tasks and functions of rhetoric and persuasion.

The conference Rhetoric in Society aims at presenting and discussing different approaches to rhetoric. The conference welcomes contributions within a wide range of subjects, from modern applications of classical approaches, rhetorical criticism, argumentation studies, communication studies, to journalism studies and new media studies.

We welcome contributions on the role of rhetoric and argumentation in written and oral discourse and genres, on topics such as: public deliberation, controversies, legal decision-making, spin, hyphenate writing, social change, political campaigning, social movements, public relations, publicity, advertising, management, corporate internal communication, art and literature, visual rhetoric and public media discourse.

The conference subject falls under four headings:
Rhetoric in Journalism and New Media
Rhetoric in Political Discourse
Rhetoric in Organisational Discourse
Rhetoric in Legal Discourse

Keynote speakers:
Joel Best is Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware, Newark DE. From the theoretical perspective of social construction, Best has published many articles and more than ten books about the rhetoric of media in society, for example Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims (1990), Random Violence:How we Talk about New Crimes and New Victims (1999) and - his latest book - about the way society constructs his own major problems: Social Problems (2007).

Daniel J. O'Keefe is Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, USA). His publications concern rhetoric, communication, and argumentation theory, with a special focus on persuasion theory and meta-analysis of persuasion effects research. He has received many awards for his publications and teaching, including the Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division Distinguished Scholar Award. O'Keefe is the author of Persuasion: Theory and research (Sage Publications, 1990; 2nd ed. 2002). file://

Ineke Sluiter is Professor of Ancient Greek at the University of Leiden. Her interests concern rhetoric, cultural identity, ancient ideas on language and literature, ancient values and norms and free speech. She has dealt with these subjects in many publications, in which she often draws lines between the classical past and the present, as is reflected in titles like 'Communicating Cynicism: Diogenes' Gangsta Rap'. Her presentation for the prestigious annual Dies Lecture for the university's 430th anniversary was also devoted to this theme.

Deadline for abstracts is 15th June 2008, 12.00 a.m. Central European time. Contributions are accepted in English only. Please send your abstract in max. 300 words edited in MS Word to The abstract should include a title, a research question, an indication of the theoretical framework, methodology, results and conclusion. The academic committee will review the abstracts. Before September 15 you will hear whether your proposal has been accepted.

Proceedings will be digitally published after the conference on the conference website and cd. A selection of the proceedings will be published in book form.

€ 200,- (including lunches, coffee, tea and other drinks (‘borrel').
Special rate for undergraduate students: € 10,- per day (lunch not included).

More details
The first and successful edition of Rhetoric in Society was organized by Aalborg University (Denmark), November 21-24, 2006. See The website for the new, 2009-conference is: file://

The academic committee,
prof. dr. Ton van Haaften (Speech Communication, Faculty of Arts Leiden University)
dr. Henrike Jansen (Speech Communication, Faculty of Arts Leiden University)
dr. Jaap de Jong (Journalism and New Media, Faculty of Arts Leiden University)
dr. Willem Koetsenruijter (Journalism and New Media, Faculty of Arts Leiden University)

Printer-Friendly Version