Agora Speaker Series:“Political Imaginaries and Political Argument”October 20, 2017 -
In 1935, President Roosevelt sent a letter to over 120,000 members of the American clergy, asking them to let him know the state of things in their communities. He was, of course, seeking to enlist their aid in his reelection efforts, but he was also looking for information on how his policies, especially Social Security, were viewed, and whether they were having their intended effects. Roughly 8,000 clergy wrote back. These letters are angry and grateful; they are funny and heart-breaking; the clergy expressed their fears, their rage, and their appreciation. And they allow me to understand the mechanics of how we talk abot politics in moments of stability and change. Political vocabularies are the rhetorical elements around and through which our political imaginaries are articulated. As I understand them, they have five elements, and for this talk I’ll be focusing on the element of depiction. Opposing political vocabularies are grounded in opposing characterizations of the specific political moment, its central issues, and its citizens, for we cannot imagine a political community without populating it and giving it purpose. Envisioning the polity is critical to how we imagine our partisan and national identities, and those visions are always a matter of contention. This presentation teases out some of the mechanisms behind that contention.
Location and Address
332 Cathedral of Learning
Directions and Parking Information
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