John Angus Campbell to speak for 2014 Thomas Scheidel Lecture

John CampbellThe Department of Communication welcomes back Professor Emeritus John Angus Campbell as the 2014 Thomas Scheidel Lecturer. Campbell’s talk titled “Professing Communication: An Attempt to Restore Confidence in Public Education and Civic Deliberation in a Climate of Distrust” will be held Wednesday, April 30 at 3:30 p.m. in CMU 120. A reception will follow in CMU 126 at 4:30 p.m. Please RSVP here if you plan to attend.

Synopsis: In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato has Socrates argue that learning about communication was proper as part of a general education. He warned, however, that deeper study of rhetoric committed one to a way of life at odds with leisure, retirement and contemplation. What should be the response of a recently retired academic rhetorician, hoping to advance a much-postponed agenda of research, to an unsought and inconvenient call from new neighbors to run for office in a bitterly divided community? The lecture explores an example from my recent experience which may support Plato’s critique. Or, to the contrary, may offer qualified hope for popular government, public education and for civic engagement. The familiar objections to and questions about the communication profession are hopefully presented in the full rigor of their native irresolution and ambiguity.

Bio: John Angus Campbell is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis. Professor Campbell is a civic rhetorician, rhetorical critic/theorist, and a founder of the rhetoric of science as an area of academic inquiry. A major focus of his various essays has been explicating the rhetorical dimensions of Charles Darwin’s challenge in achieving and presenting his central scientific insights from his notebooks forward through the Origin and beyond. Campbell taught at the University of Washington from 1968-1995 and for many years directed the basic course “Speech 220.” “Oratory, Democracy and the Classroom,” his personally favorite essay, emerged from this experience and explicates the link between the public speaking classroom and the civic practices vital to a free society. During the winter of 1994-95 when Speech Communication and The School of Communications were on the Dean’s list of departments in the College of Arts and Sciences to be abolished, he helped mobilize, local, state, and national support to restore them. From 1995-2005 he served as Director of Graduate Programs in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis and is founding director of its Ph.D. program. Most recently he co-edited with David Henry and Anthony De Valesco, Living Art: Rethinking Rhetorical, Theory, Criticism and Pedagogy, (forthcoming from Michigan State University Press.) The volume will be part of MSUP’s Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series and is a selection of the papers of the prolific rhetorical scholar, his late colleague, friend, and former Chair of the department at Memphis, Michael Leff. His current project is “Citizen Science in Hood Canal: From Basic Research to Public Policy Formation and Enforcement” to be presented at the Rhetoric Society of America, conference in San Antonio in May. His honors include the Golden Monograph Award from the National Communication Association (1971, 1987) the James Madison Prize from the Southern States Communication Association (2005) and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Washington (1993), and the Dean’s Recognition Award, (1994).

Since his retirement he has twice been elected to the North Mason School Board and was appointed by his colleagues to represent the district on the board of the Mason Transit Authority.  He has twice served as President of the NMSB and the MTA. In 2010 Campbell shared with his colleagues the honor of being recognized by the Washington State School Directors Association as a “Board of Distinction.” Campbell is a member of the Lower Hood Canal Watershed Coalition and participates in its monitoring, outreach and critique of public policy and public agency practice. He volunteers with the Hood Canal Salmon Center in salmon counting and in identifying the sex ratio in the run of Summer Chum returning to the Union river. He coaches in the civic education programs Project Citizen (Hawkins Middle School) and We The People (North Mason High School). He serves as a judge in the annual state competition in Olympia where students in each program give public presentations and respond to questions. In 2013 he received the “Defender of Democracy Award” from the WTP coordinator for the 6th Congressional District for his work as a coach, judge and civic education advocate.

About the Scheidel Lecture: The Thomas Scheidel Lecture has been a long-standing tradition since 1998 after the Thomas M. Scheidel Faculty Lecture Fund was created in 1997. It honors Scheidel’s lifetime of scholarship, teaching, and academic leadership by bringing distinguished scholars to the UW Department of Communication to meet with and lecture to faculty and students who are pursuing advanced study in communication. During Scheidel’s more than twenty-year career at the UW, he held the positions of Associate Dean and Departmental Chair twice, and was awarded for his Distinguished Service, Research, and as a Scholar.