Political Argumentation in the United States

Historical and contemporary studies

Selected essays by David Zarefsky

| Northwestern University
ISBN 9789027211248 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
ISBN 9789027269904 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
In the United States, political argumentation occurs in institutionalized settings and the broader public forum, in efforts to resolve conflict and efforts to foster it, in settings with time limits and controversies that extend over centuries. From the ratification of the U.S. Constitution to the presidency of Barack Obama, this book contains twenty studies of U.S. political argumentation, grouped under four themes: early American political discourse, Abraham Lincoln’s political argumentation, argumentation about foreign policy, and public policy argumentation since the 1960s.

Deploying methods of rhetorical criticism, argument analysis and evaluation, the studies are rich in contextual grounding and critical perspective. They integrate the European emphasis on politics as an argumentative context with the U.S. tradition of public address studies.

Two essays have never before been published. The others are retrieved from journals and books published between 1979 and 2014. The introductory essay is new for this volume.
[Argumentation in Context, 7]  2014.  x, 386 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: The field of political argumentation
Part I. Early American political argumentation
From “conflict” to “Constitutional question” Transformations in early American public discourse
John Tyler and the rhetoric of the accidental presidency
Debating slavery by proxy: The Texas annexation controversy
Henry Clay and the election of 1844: The limits of a rhetoric of compromise
Part II. Abraham Lincoln’s political argumentation
Consistency and change in Lincoln’s rhetoric about equality
“Public sentiment is everything” Lincoln’s view of political persuasion
Lincoln and the House Divided: Launching a national political career
The Lincoln-Douglas debates revisited: The evolution of public argument
Philosophy and rhetoric in Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address
Part III. Argumentation and American foreign policy
The self-sealing rhetoric of John Foster Dulles
Foreign policy as persuasion: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam
George W. Bush discovers rhetoric: September 20, 2001 and the U.S. response to terrorism
Making the case for war: Colin Powell at the United Nations
The U.S. and the world: The rhetorical dimensions of Obama’s foreign policy
Part IV. American political argumentation since the 1960s
The Great Society as a rhetorical proposition
Lyndon Johnson redefines “equal opportunity” The beginnings of affirmative action
Civil rights and civil conflict: Presidential communication in crisis
Martin Luther King, the American Dream, and Vietnam: A collision of rhetorical trajectories
Reagan’s safety net for the truly needy: The rhetorical uses of definition
Obama’s Lincoln: Uses of the argument from historical analogy
“At last there is a volume that brings together David Zarefsky’s thoughtful and wide-ranging insights on rhetoric, argumentation, and significant political puzzles! With characteristic precision and historical sensitivity, Zarefsky perspicuously analyzes the argumentative contours of important rhetorical cases in U.S. politics from the republic’s early days to the present. The collection’s implications for the study and practice of political argument make this eloquent treatment a must-read.”
“The volume [...] reflects the writing of Dr. Zarefsky on subjects related to early American political argumentation, the public argumentation of Abraham Lincoln, argumentation in American foreign policy, and American political argumentation since the 1960s. [A]n outstanding contribution to the distinguished series [...].”
“Throughout his long and distinguished career as a scholar and critic, Zarefsky has analyzed early and modern U.S. public discourse offering academic audiences his insights into the links between public discourse and public policy. This collection enables a wider audience to enjoy his perceptive critiques.”
“This magisterial collection showcases the work of David Zarefsky, an international leader in the study of argumentation in context. Studying more than two centuries of U.S. political history, Zarefsky adroitly deploys argumentation as an analytic perspective in order to demonstrate the power of public discourse at specific moments as well as the trajectory of argumentative practices across time. The volume is essential reading for scholars of argumentation and rhetorical history alike.”
“A superb critic of political argumentation, David Zarefsky has consistently focused on the rhetorical strategies that define political reality. Taken together, these extraordinary essays chart and explain the

linguistic realities that have made American politics from their founding to the present. It is an invaluable collection.”
“When it comes to rhetorical discourse in America, David Zarefsky is the dean of historical and critical analysis. In this collection of his writings over the course of the last 30 years, Zarefsky ranges widely—from the early Republic to the debate over Texas annexation to Lincoln and the Civil War to civil rights rhetoric of the 1960s and on into the Obama era. Ever the careful student of history, Zarefsky brings a rhetorical scholar’s acumen to the analysis of specific texts and movements. For those interested in how a master rhetorician wields the tools of critical analysis, I can think of no better introduction.”
“This collection of essays reflects the extraordinary breadth and depth of Zarefsky’s work on American political argumentation. The essays identify and explore important argument dynamics in a wide range of cases including constitutional debates in the early republic, the slavery controversy in the nineteenth century, mid-twentieth century domestic policy debates, and early twenty-first century foreign policy issues. I can’t recommend it more highly.”
Cited by

Cited by 4 other publications

No author info given
2015.  In Argumentation in Political Deliberation [Benjamins Current Topics, 76],  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
Hollihan, Thomas A.
2021.  In Diplomatic and Mediated Arguments in the North Korean Crisis [Palgrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy, ],  pp. 25 ff. Crossref logo
Lawrence, John, Jacky Visser, Chris Reed, Randy Allen Harris & Chrysanne Di Marco
2017. Harnessing rhetorical figures for argument mining. Argument & Computation 8:3  pp. 289 ff. Crossref logo
Lewiński, Marcin & Dima Mohammed
2016.  In The International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy,  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 15 october 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Subjects & Metadata

Communication Studies

Communication Studies
BIC Subject: CFG – Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2014012491 | Marc record