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Forensics expert to give notable presentation on campus

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April 29, 2015

Dr. David Zarefsky to speak on the 1858 public debates

Headshot DZRenowned argumentation scholar David Zarefsky will bring his expertise to Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) to speak on “Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: In the Crucible of Public Debate” on Thursday, May 14 at 6 p.m. in the Studio Theater of the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

In the book under the same name, Zarefsky examines the dynamics of the seven 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, placing them in historical context and explaining the complicated issue of slavery in the territories. He explains the candidates’ arguments, analyzes their rhetorical strategies and shows how public sentiment is transformed.

“Dr. Zarefksy’s fascinating account of the Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debates around slavery draws into relief how even the most obvious moral solutions were at one time controversial,” Justin Eckstein, Director of PLU Forensics, said. “It is quite fascinating to see the cultural shift that took place.”

Zarefsky is a Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and is considered to be the world’s most renowned scholar on Lincoln. His research and teaching are in the areas of rhetorical history and criticism, argumentation, debate and forensics.

Zarefsky has authored more than 100 articles in professional journals and two of his books have won the Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, one of which was his book “Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: In the Crucible of Public Debate.”

The T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum, PLU’s debate team, invited Zarefsky to PLU to spotlight forensics and show how its significance extends far beyond speech and debate competitions.

The lecture is the last event in the School of Arts and Communication’s 2015 Focus Series on perspective and is expected to draw a large audience from Pacific Lutheran University and the Parkland and Tacoma communities. Please arrive early, as seating is limited. The event is free and open to the public.