Roskilde Universitet
Kommunikationsvej 1,
Bygning 42.3
4000 Roskilde

Tlf: 46 74 26 92
Chris Holmsted Larsen

Tlf: 46 74 38 08
Kim Christian Schrøder


FMKJ er en national forskerskole, der:
• Arrangerer ph.d.-kurser på
- internationalt niveau,
• Er vært for internationale
- gæsteforskere,
• Uddeler stipendier til skolens
- studerende,
• Har indstillingsret til
- Forskningsrådet for Kultur og
- Kommunikation.

Usable Pasts: Modern Applications of Old Ideas about Communication

University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, 2300 Copenhagen S

November 25-27, 2010

Organized by Christian Kock, University of Copenhagen,

and Sam McCormick, Purdue University

Course content


The seminar focuses on how ideas and approaches in and around the rhetorical tradition since antiquity offer inspiration and potential applications for modern thinking and practice across several fields.


The seminar will include five lectures by senior scholars (see below) and project presentations by participants followed by feedback and discussion with senior scholars and peers in a ‘Master Class’ format


ECTS points:

Participation with paper: 3 ECTS. Participation without paper: 1,5 ECTS


Senior scholars (for abstracts and profiles, see below)


Anders Eriksson, University of Örebro, Sweden: “The Uses of Topics”


Malcolm Heath, University of Leeds, England: “Aristotelian and Evolutionary Aesthetics in Dialogue”


Christian Kock, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: “Aristotle on Deliberation: Its Place in Rhetoric, Ethics, and Politics – Then and Now”


Samuel McCormick, Purdue University, Indiana, USA: “The Ideology of Everyday Talk: Kierkegaard on Snak, Heidegger on Gerede”


Hanne Roer, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: “Rhetoric Meets Religion”



Costs and practical matters


The Danish Research School FMKJ covers all participation expenses (travel, meals, accommodation) for doctoral students who are enrolled members of FMKJ.


Doctoral students from other, international institutions are encouraged to participate. While the course itself is offered free of charge, they will have to pay their own travel and accommodation costs, and a fee of app. DKK 500 (app. Eur. 75) to cover meals, coffee during intervals, texts, etc. during the course. Prior to the course, FMKJ will send an invoice for this amount to those who have enrolled on a self-paying basis.


Seminar enrolment and application deadline:

The seminar application, including a one-page project outline, must be sent by email no later than October 15, 2010, to the FMKJ Secretary at


Participants who want to present a paper (10-12 pages) for feedback must submit the paper by November 15, 2010, to the FMKJ Secretary at


Registration form available at (‘Kursustilmelding’)


For questions about practical arrangements, please contact the FMKJ secretary Chris Holmsted Larsen at


For questions about course content and organization, please contact Professor Christian Kock, University of Copenhagen, at


Seminar readings:

Seminar readings will be made available 1 month before the course, with required reading and suggested literature for the seminar. Students are expected to have read the literature before the beginning of the seminar.





Thursday November 25, 2010

  • 03.00-04.00     pm       Arrival, registration
  • 04.00-04.30     pm       Welcome
  • 04.30-06.00  pm          Lecture: “The Uses of Topics”
  • 06.00-07.00     pm       Dinner
  • 07.00-              Social gathering


Friday November 26, 2010    

  • 08.00-09.00     am       Breakfast
  • 09.00-10.30     am       Lecture: “Rhetoric Meets Religion”
  • 10.30-11.00     am       Coffee
  • 11.00-12.30     am       Presentations by participants
  • 12.30-01.30     pm       Lunch             
  • 01.30-02.30     pm       Presentations by participants
  • 02.30-03.00     pm       Coffee
  • 03.00-05.00     pm       Lecture: “Aristotelian and Evolutionary Aesthetics in Dialogue”
  • 05.00-06.30     pm       Free time
  • 06.30-07.30     pm       Dinner
  • 07.30- pm       Social gathering


Saturday November 27, 2010

  • 08.00-09.00     am       Breakfast
  • 09.00-10.30     pm       Lecture: “The Ideology of Everyday Talk: Kierkegaard on Snak, Heidegger on Gerede”
  • 10.30-11.00     am       Coffee
  • 11.00-12.30     am       Presentations by participants
  • 12.30-01.30     am/pm             Lunch
  • 01.30-03.00     pm       Lecture: “Aristotle on Deliberation: Its Place in Rhetoric, Ethics, and Politics – Then and Now”
  • 03.00-03.30     pm       Coffee
  • 03.30-05.00     pm       Presentations by participants
  • 05.15-06.30     pm       Free time
  • 06.30-08.00     pm       Dinner
  • 08.00-              Social gathering


Depending on the number of participants, slight modifications of this schedule may take place.

Weather permitting, cultural activities may be organized on a voluntary basis during free time, such as a walk to see places in Central Copenhagen where Søren Kierkegaard lived.


The lectures and the lecturers:


Anders Eriksson: “The Uses of Topics”

In antiquity, topical systems served both as resources for thinking and as learning tools. A revival of topical thinking for these and other purposes is taking place. The paper will discuss some modern uses of topical thinking, with an emphasis on the contemporary application of the ancient Progymnasmata system of writing instruction.


Anders Eriksson is Associate Professor of Rhetoric at the School of Humanities, University of Örebro, Sweden. His publications include work on Biblical rhetoric, on the ‘Progymnasmata’ exercises, and on rhetorical didactics.


Malcolm Heath: “Aristotelian and Evolutionary Aesthetics in Dialogue”

Evolutionary approaches to the arts risk being either irrelevant, if an account of origins displaces current function and value, or reductive, if an account of origins purports to determine current function and value. Can any assistance be provided by Aristotle—a biologist, who recognised that humans are a species of animal, and saw poetry as a natural human behaviour (Poetics 4)? Although Aristotle’s biology is thoroughly superseded, he may still offer some useful conceptual resources:

Aristotelian biology is non-evolutionary, and thus escapes the distraction of origins;

Aristotelian biology is, nevertheless, ‘modern’ in its understanding of living organisms, including human beings, as integrated functional systems, subject to the constraints of survival and reproduction;

in drawing a distinction between living and living well, Aristotle avoids the risk of reductivism;

Aristotle’s connection between living well and the human community (polis), together with his understanding of cultural history, suggest a possible analogy with the concept of cumulative niche construction in evolutionary biology;

Aristotle’s conception of the objectivity of value (ethical and aesthetic) allows him to combine a claim to universality with a form of cultural relativism.


Malcolm Heath is Professor of Greek Language and Literature, University of Leeds, England. His current research interest is Aristotle’s Poetics, on which he has written a number of articles; his translation was published by Penguin Classics in 1996. His publications also include The Poetics of Greek Tragedy, Hermogenes On Issues: Strategies of Argument in Later Greek Rhetoric, Interpreting Classical Texts, Ancient Poetics, and numerous articles in leading journals. He continues to work on ancient rhetoric, and also retains an active research interest in Greek Tragedy and Old Comedy, in ancient interpretations of Homer, and in the theory of interpretation.



Christian Kock: “Aristotle on Deliberation: Its Place in Rhetoric, Ethics, and Politics – Then and Now”

Aristotle’s rhetoric, ethics, and politics are linked through the concepts of deliberation (boulê, bouleusis) and deliberate choice (proairesis). This fact has not been much discussed by scholars, probably because few studies have ranged across these three disciplines (or ‘arts’). These concepts help provide durable definitions of all three, and in addition they offer inspiration for modern theories of ‘deliberative democracy’, citizenship, argumentation, debate, and the public sphere.


Christian Kock is Professor of Rhetoric and Head of the Division of Rhetoric at the Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. With a background in literary studies, his publications include books and articles in English and Danish on Czech Structuralism, literary aesthetics, presupposition, English versification, writing pedagogy, political journalism, public debate, argumentation theory, credibility, and the history of rhetoric. He is a frequent commentator on political debate and journalism in Danish national media.


Samuel McCormick: “The Ideology of Everyday Talk: Kierkegaard on Snak, Heidegger on Gerede”

How are we to understand the rhetoric of everyday life?  There are two basic answers to this question.  The first is obvious and continues to receive attention from rhetorical critics: in order to understand the rhetoric of everyday life, we must examine ways of speaking characteristic of ordinary citizen-subjects, especially as they find expression in local forums of collective life.  The second answer is more elusive and requires the careful attention of theorists and historians of rhetoric: in addition to the rhetoric of ordinary citizen-subjects, we must consider the philosophical discourse of those who have taken it upon themselves to conceptualize this rhetoric.  Implicit in the study of the rhetoric of everyday life, then, is an intellectual history of ordinary rhetorical culture, or, at the risk of putting too fine a point on this subject, an ideology of everyday talk.  Shoring up this ideology is the work of two key figures in the history of continental thought: Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Heidegger.  Excavating their contributions to our understanding of the rhetoric of everyday life is the primary task of this lecture.


Samuel McCormick is Asistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Purdue University, Indiana. He is interested in communication and social theory, the rhetoric of everyday life, ideologies of the aesthetic, and methodological intersections between media studies, rhetorical criticism, and interpretive social science.  He is finishing a book-length study of the minor political rhetoric of major Western thinkers. He has won the Pamela J. Cooper Teaching Award, the Douglas H. Ehninger Teaching Award, and the Donald C. Bryant Rhetorical Studies Award. He has published in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Philosophy and Rhetoric, and The International Encyclopedia of Communication. 


Hanne Roer, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: “Rhetoric Meets Religion”

Augustine, in De doctrina Christiana, licensed the use of Classical rhetoric for the Christian speaker. In the history of homiletics, the rhetoric of the Church fathers combined with Classical, mostly Ciceronian, rhetoric has led to a host of new rhetorical genres. I shall comment on the importance of this long rhetorical tradition for modern homiletics.


Hanne Roer is Associate Professor of Rhetoric, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. With a background in literary studies and classics, she has published on the history of rhetoric, Dante and other medieval subjects, Perelman, and rhetorical criticism. She is currently engaged in the research project “The Forgotten Canon: Aurelius Augustine and the Rhetorical Tradition”, financed by The Danish Council for Independent Research/ Humanities. She is a frequent commentator on political debate and journalism in Danish national newspapers.


Comments are closed.