Visualizing Public Address

Cara A Finnegan, Jennifer L Jones Barbour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In his keynote address at the Seventh Biennial Public Address Conference, Martin J.Medhurst argued for the need to reconfigure public address studies, particularly with regard to doctoral training.Medhurst outlined seven types of expertise that we might cultivate in graduate students, including period expertise (training in a specific era, such as the American Revolution), textual expertise (devotion to one rich text or set of texts that warrant extended study, such as the Declaration of Independence), and genre expertise (attention to specific types of public address, such as presidential rhetoric or the rhetoric of war).5 None of Medhurst's seven categories directly engaged the question of expertise in terms of visuality, though they certainly might have. If, as Medhurst observed, Stephen E. Lucas possesses expertise in the American Revolution, then so too does Lester Olson, whose studies of "rhetorical iconography" (one of which we review here) explore the complex visual politics of the early American republic.6 In a similar vein, Medhurst's notions of "textual" and "genre" expertise might be reframed to allow for the recognition of rich visual discourses as well. The books we take up here represent a range of fields in which one might locate scholarship on the visual aspects of public address, including art history, history, literary and cultural studies, and rhetorical studies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-505
Number of pages17
JournalRhetoric and Public Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


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