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Book launch event: Michel Meyer, Oxford 17 Oct 2017

We’d like to draw your attention to a launch event for Michel Meyer’s new book, What is Rhetoric? (Oxford, 2017). The event takes place at the Maison francaise in Oxford on October 17, 2017, 2-4pm. All are welcome.

Here are the details:


In everyday life, issues are debated and questions discussed. Rhetoric refers to the way we answer questions in an interpersonal context, when we want to have an effect on those with whom we are communicating. Our interlocutors can be convinced or charmed, persuaded or influenced, and the language used can range from reasoning to the sharing of narratives, literary or otherwise. Michel Meyer’s new book, What Is Rhetoric? (OUP, 2017), offers a breakthrough approach to the principles and functioning of rhetoric by providing a systematic and unified view of rhetorical language. The book combines the social aspects of rhetoric, such as the negotiation of distance between speakers, with the theory of emotions. All the principal authors from Plato and Aristotle to contemporary theorists are integrated into the book’s ‘problematological’ conception of rhetoric, based on the primacy of questioning and answering in language and thought.This seminar will explore some of the rich questions raised by Michel Meyer’s What Is Rhetoric? Following an initial presentation of the book’s argument by its author, contributions from specialists in a range of fields will seek to develop and test its conclusions from an interdisciplinary perspective. The session will conclude with a question/answer and discussion session. The event is open to anyone with an interest in rhetoric, in all and any of its diverse forms.


14:00 – 14:05: Welcome (Chair, tbc)

14:05 – 14:35: “What Is Rhetoric?”; Michel Meyer (Philosophy, Brussels)

14:35 – 14:50: “Visual and Literary Rhetoric”; Jas’ Elsner (Classics, Oxford)

14:50 – 15:05: “Problematology, Rhetoric and Social Science”; Nick Turnbull (Politics, Manchester)

15:05 – 15:20: “Psychoanalysis and Rhetoric”; Paul Earlie (French, Bristol)

15:20 – 16:00: Questions and discussion.


Rhetoric Society of Europe 2017

The final dinner at the RSE 2017 conference in UEA’s Sainsbury Centre

Last week the Rhetoric Society of Europe 2017 conference was held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. This was a very successful event with c. 180 attendees presenting around the theme ‘rhetorics of unity and division’. The plenary speakers were the very excellent Quentin Skinner, Ruth Wodak, and Gerard Hauser. The Rhetoric & Politics group was one of the co-sponsors and the conference was organised with skill by our members, Alan Finlayson and Sophia Hatzisavvidou. The sun shone and Norwich offered a delightful, welcoming backdrop to a very pleasant and friendly event. One of the dominant themes was the emergence of populism in contemporary political discourse – papers explored the rhetoric of populism from a variety of different perspectives. The range and diversity of speakers – from across Europe, Russia, the US, Turkey and Israel – helped make this an especially interesting gathering. The next RSE conference will be held in Pavia, Italy in 2019 and I thoroughly recommend all to attend.

Participants at the RSE wine reception in Norwich Cathedral

Panel at PSA 2017

The Rhetoric and Politics Specialist Group will have a panel at the Glasgow PSA Annual Conference later this year. Here are the details:

Rhetoric and the British Labour Party

Since losing the election in 2010 (and again in 2015), the British Labour Party has found itself drifting away from firm programmatic or ideological moorings. The party’s relation to its intellectual heritage, its styles of leadership and communication, as well as its historic sense of purpose and relation to its support base have become topics of – often sharp – controversy. This panel explores themes in Labour’s rhetorical framing of its own programme, purpose and leadership. Papers will reflect on the way ideas and principles are figured in the party and how past events and recent changes challenge its identity as a political movement.

Chair: Andrew Crines (University of Liverpool)

Discussant: David Moon (University of Bath)


  1. Eunice Goes (Richmond University): Mapping Ideational Change in Political Parties: The accidental life of the idea ‘pre-distribution’ in the Labour Party Under Ed Miliband
  2. Karl Pike (Queen Mary University): The Party has a Life of its Own: Labour’s ethos and its leaders
  3. Judi Atkins (Coventry University): Preaching to the Choir? Rhetoric, Leadership and Labour’s Crisis of Communication

Do come along! See you in Glasgow.

PSA2017: extension to submission deadline

Some news in from the PSA: ‘Please note that the deadline for Panel Proposals for the 67th PSA Annual International Conference has now been extended to Tuesday 1st November 2016.

So we have an extra week to come up with panels and papers. Do get in touch if you have any proposals!


Brexit: some reflections

The UK Referendum on ending membership of the EU, held on June 2016, has provoked a number of reflections on its rhetoric. Here are a few links from our members and friends.

Rhetoric Society of Europe Conference 2017

The Rhetoric Society of Europe (RSE) will hold its conference in 2017 between 3-5 July at the University of East Anglia, Norwich! The conference theme is ‘Rhetorics of Unity and Division’ and the keynotes include Gerard Hauser and Quentin Skinner.

For details on the conference, see the web site here: http://eusorhet.eu/


PSA Annual Conference 2017

The annual conference of the UK Political Studies Association will take place in Glasgow from 10-12 April 2017. Details can be found here:


We have one panel already prepared (on Rhetoric and the British Labour Party – details to follow when confirmed by the conference organisers). But there is still (just about) time to submit papers and panels. Closing date is 24 October 2016. Get in touch with me (j.martin@gold.ac.uk) if you’d like to present something on rhetoric or a related theme.

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