Democratic Values: Past, Present, and Future
Professor Keith W. Olson
The roots of American values, with origins in the English Enlightenment, are embedded in the two national foundational documents: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Throughout the next 229 years the concept of democracy and its commitments to equality and individualism has changed in meaning and implementation. Today the definitions of democracy and equality, and their relationship to each other, remain at the center of political discourse and this discourse will continue into the future.
Imagining Democracy: Walt Whitman and Karl Marx
Professor Betsy Erkkila
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Leaves of Grass in 1855, I want to open the transatlantic conversation between Walt Whitman and Karl Marx as a means of challenging the disciplinary, national, and field boundaries and the demonizing rhetorics of the Cold War that have kept Whitman and Marx, the poet and the philosopher, America and Europe, Democracy and Communism apart. The subject of Whitman and Marx is fascinating in what it tells us about nineteenth-century political and cultural exchange across the boundaries of the nation-state. In the context of the global crisis of capitalism, which Marx predicted, and the possibility of global union, which Whitman imaginatively embodied, the subject of Whitman and Marx also has a pressing relevance and urgency to the ongoing struggles over capitalism, democracy, individual freedom, and the possibilities of world union-and peace-today.
Inconclusion: Melodrama, Realism, and Narrative Form in American
Professor Mimi White
This talk considers episodes of dramatic narrative programs on television that lack conventional or satisfying resolution. In the cases in question, things come to a bad end in the sense that they lack definitive closure, offering neither a happy nor a tragic ending. The program's protagonists, as well as the system in which they routinely function (e.g. legal, child welfare, etc.), prove unable to resolve the narrative dilemma in the terms in which the program (and its genre) usually operates. The talk explores issues of narrative aesthetics and ideology in dramatic television series raised by these inconclusive endings.
American Values and Universal Values
Professor Clifford Christians
Communication ethics must be worldwide in its orientation. A credible approach to moral values must take seriously both the rapid globalization of communications and the reassertion of local identities. Media professionals for their policies and moral guidelines must think internationally,
outside Western canons. Do American ethical theorists meet the global test? Are they parochial or do they contribute to an authentic understanding of universal values? To what extent do they help resolve the major issues in international communication ethics, such as the status of values, relativism, and the one/many problem.
Reading Across Minority Discourses: Democratic Values and Minority Writing
Professor Shelley Armitage
The past ten years have been particularly interesting in the US in regard to the rise of "minority" literatures, presses, and corresponding academic programs and departments. The talk reviews and critiques the social history of such texts and writers in terms of this year's Modern Language Association keynote on "activist scholarship." By analyzing the interplay of the marketing of ideas and the meaning of "multicultural" equability in such arenas as the public schools, curriculum, and public policy, this discussion tracts the influence of literatures on contested issues of language, culture, and community in a "democratic" society. Examples and experiences derived from students' work as well as now canonical varieties of "minority" writing will be examined.