Policy, Rhetoric and Public BewildermentSt Peter's College
From: 5 November 2012
To: 9 November 2012
Final versions of the lecturers can be downloaded here
Rhetoric and the Art of Public Persuasion
The Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Rhetoric and the Art of Public Persuasion in honour of Phillip Gould is being hosted by St Peter's College and will take place during Michaelmas Term, from 5th to 9th November.
The Visiting Professor this year is Mark Thompson, the next President and CEO of the New York Times Company. Between 2004 and this year he was Director-General of the BBC, in which role he was responsible for the Corporation's services across television, radio and online and for a global workforce of 20,000. It was a period when the BBC was under great pressure to prove that it provided good value for money, but during his tenure, the BBC reshaped itself to meet the challenge of the digital age, launching world-leading and innovative domestic and global digital services.
These lectures and seminars, which are his first major public engagement since leaving the BBC, will reflect upon the nature of public discourse. Why has the promise of the digital revolution not been fulfilled? In an age when access to information is easier than ever before, why is public understanding of and engagement with the issues of the day so poor?
Mark Thompson eschews explainations that place the blame simply with politicians, the media or the public. In this series, he will search for an explanation by looking instead at our public language. He will argue that that - for reasons which go far beyond politics or partisan blame - it is undergoing profound change, becoming increasingly optimised for political differentiation and advantage to the detriment of rhetoric's other fundamental role in a democracy - which is to enable ordinary citizens to understand and therefore participate in the great policy questions of the day.
Inaugural Lecture - Is Plato winning the argument
Drawing in particular on recent examples from American and British healthcare reform, Mark Thompson asks whether the language of politics is changing in ways which threaten public understanding of and engagement with the most important issues of the day.
Monday 5 November at 5.30 - 7.00 pm in the Chapel.
Lecture - Consign it to the flames
Almost everyone accepts that science is our most authoritative guide to understanding of the world so why is it so disputed and disbelieved when it comes to public policy? In his second lecture, Mark Thompson focuses the case of science to look at what's happened to the 'argument from authority' in modern rhetoric.
Tuesday 6 November at 5 - 6.30 pm in the Chapel.
Lecture - Not in my name
In his third lecture, Mark Thompson looks at what happens when modern rhetoric and morality collide, taking the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as his principal examples.
Wednesday 7 November at 5 - 6.30 pm in the Chapel. Speaker Mark Thompson
Graduate Seminar - Broadcasting and Journalism
Thursday 8 November at 5 pm in the Dorfman Centre.
Symposium - Politics and Language - Friends or Enemies?
Friday 9 November at 5 - 6.30 pm in the Chapel. Speaker Mark Thompson, with Polly Toynbee, Gus O'Donnell, David Willetts MP and chaired by Andrew Marr
More details and booking details can be found at http://humanitas-live.nsms.ox.ac.uk/humanitas/rhetoric-and-art-public-persuasion