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[Virtual] Updating Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum Speech

February 13, 2022 @ 10:30 AM 12:00 PM

David Zarefsky, Ph.D., popular LSUS speaker, will speak on the topic, Updating Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum SpeechWhen he was not yet 29 years old, Abraham Lincoln spoke to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield.  Reviewing the signs of the times, he warned of the danger that democracy could deteriorate into lawlessness, inviting a despot who promised a solution.  His warning is pertinent today, over 180 years later, but his proposed solution – making respect for laws the political religion – requires some updating in the light of experience.  This discourse will review Lincoln’s argument, how his diagnosis was prescient, examine some difficulties with his remedy, and suggest how we might update his ideas for 2022.

Dr. David Zarefsky is Owen L. Coon Professor Emeritus of Argumentation and Debate and Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, where he is the former Dean of the School of Communication.  His research and teaching interests center on public argument in U.S. politics, both historical and contemporary.  His specialty is the rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln.  He is the author, coauthor, or editor of ten books and over 120 book chapters and journal articles.  Dr. Zarefsky is a former president of both the National Communication Association and the Rhetoric Society of America and has won research and service awards from both. He last spoke to us in November of 2016 on the topic of Campaign Rhetoric 2016.


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