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Institute of Advanced Study

The Rhetoric of Personhood Seminar Series

This exciting range of seminars will draw on examples from throughout human history and across many societies to show how new forms of human being, and being human,come into existence. All societies have some idea of what a human person is. Those ideas, and the practices that go with them, are, in a larger perspective, fluid and changeable. They respond to new imagery, new narratives, and in general, to new rhetoric, which convinces people to take a new view of themselves and the human world.

Within this series, Jenny Terry, a scholar of African American and Caribbean literature, will show how freed slaves developed autobiographical writing to establish a new sense of themselves as persons in society. The anthropologist Steve Lyon will discuss new forms of electronic personhood developed on the Internet. The classicist Ingo Gildenhard will trace different versions of the inner self, from Homer on Achilles to Peter Singer on George W. Bush. Two American scholars of rhetoric, John Lucaites of Indiana University and Robert Hariman of Northwestern, will address themselves specifically to rhetoric in its social setting: John Lucaites will discuss the rise of the new idea of ‘citizens as dummies' in American political culture, and Robert Hariman will discuss the contrast in American political rhetoric between ideas of ‘compassion' and ‘stupidity' as human attributes. Other topics concern the rise of ‘environmental citizenship' (addressed by Ben Campbell, anthropologist, and Simon James, philosopher), persons as dreamers in Islamist ideology and practice (Iain Edgar, anthropologist), and the individual human being in socialist thought in post-Revolutionary France (Julian Wright, historian).

These seminars are free and open to all

For more information please contact Professor Michael Carrithers and for further seminar details please see the link below.

Seminar Details