Hall Center For The Humanities


David Zarefsky
David Zarefsky
Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies, Northwestern University

"Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam: The Rhetoric of War and Peace"
Special Events

Thu., Oct. 20, 2011, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Co-sponsored by the Dole Institute, the Department of Communication Studies, and the Hall Center
Location: Dole Institute of Politics

Lyndon B. Johnson saw Vietnam through the prism of the Cold War, yet paradoxically saw himself as a man of restraint. In his lecture, David Zarefsky, Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Owen L. Coon Professor Emeritus of Argumentation and Debate at Northwestern University, will argue that the goal of escalation was not traditional military victory but persuasion, convincing various audiences that wars of liberation fail.

When the nation began to lose patience with the war, Johnson began to change course by claiming success. He did all this through speeches that at once defined, justified, and enacted his policies. By studying these speeches, we can better understand the mindset in which most Americans viewed the war and through which Johnson held their support for most of his term of office.

Zarefsky has taught at Northwestern for over 40 years, and has also served as Dean of the School of Communication. He is an expert in presidential rhetoric and history, with particular emphasis on Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. Zarefsky is the author of six books and more than 70 scholarly articles about American public discourse (historical and contemporary), argumentation, rhetorical criticism, and public speaking. He has served as president of both the National Communication Association and the Rhetoric Society of America.

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