UAH Communication Arts Department hosts fall SCoR Colloquium "Rhetoric, Christianity, and War"

Dr. Clarke Rountree, Department Chair of Communication Arts

Michael Mercier | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will host a fall Southern Colloquium on Rhetoric (SCoR), Friday, Oct. 16. The theme is "Rhetoric, Christianity, and War."

The colloquium is from 1 p.m., to 5 p.m., in the in the Shelby Center for Science and Technology, room 301. The event is sponsored by the UAH Department of Communication Arts.

Dr. Clarke Rountree, Department Chair of Communication Arts will lead the colloquium at UAH. "Several distinguished professors from other universities will discuss selected readings by scholars and public speakers addressing the "Rhetoric, Christianity, and War" theme. This is the first time UAH has hosted a SCoR academic conference, and we are very excited to take part in this wonderful series."

A special guest participating in the discussions will be Dr. Jouni Tilli of The University of Jyväskylä (Finland). Tilli works as a member of the Postwar Studies Research Group in the Department of History and Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä. He is the author of the award-winning book, The Continuation War 1941-1944 as a Metanoic Moment: A Burkean Reading of Finnish Clerical Rhetoric. Tilli, who speaks four languages fluently, will be at UAH this fall for a post-doctoral study.

Continuation War book cover

He has published articles on clerical nationalism, war rhetoric, history politics, and Burkean rhetoric in Finnish and in English. Additionally, Tilli has published two detailed studies. The monograph Suomen pyha sofa (Finland's Holy War) won the Finnish Christian Book of the Year Award for 2014.

Other panelists participating in the SCoR conference will come from The University of Georgia, The University of Alabama, and Vanderbilt University. Speeches included in the readings are President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural (which considers God's role in the Civil War), as well as speeches by a Confederate minister, Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, and late-19th century political orator Albert J. Beveridge.

"The colloquium will analyze the problematic relationship between war and Christianity, and how various American speakers have negotiated that relationship to explain or justify war or conquest in light of God's purposes," said Rountree.

The SCoR series was initiated in 2008, in light of an influx of talented rhetorical scholars to the South over the past couple of decades. Previously, most top rhetorical scholars worked in the Midwest.

"Rhetoric, the art of persuasive discourse, has been studied in departments of communication for a century, and taught as a practical art (public speaking) since the fifth century BC in Greece," Rountree noted.

"Rhetorical scholars analyze discourse to understand how speakers and writers achieve their persuasive goals. Problems such as Christianity's emphasis on peace when a speaker is supporting or explaining war are rhetorical problems, and speakers' ingenuity in addressing such problems is important for understanding how persuasion has functioned historically and how it functions in general," Rountree said.



Dr. Clarke Rountree