Today, in Rhetoric of the American Experience 1865-1945, we had a guest lecturer. Professor J. Michael Hogan, from Pennsylvania State University came to talk to our class about rhetoric and the Progressive era. Then, I also attended a talk that he gave later in the afternoon to the entire Communication Studies department.
Professor Hogan opened class this morning with his take on the Penn State football scandal. This was really interesting, not only because it was my first time hearing the story from someone so close to the incident, but also because we were able to tie this incident back to rhetoric, civic life, and the influence of the media today. From there, Professor Hogan opened up the floor to questions that we had for him as a scholar on the rhetoric of the Progressive era. I personally questioned Professor Hogan’s assertions that the American people today are disinterested in civic engagement and that we must place a renewed emphasis on general studies in our education system. After reading Hogan’s text and getting the chance to meet him, I really do value his insights.
The talk in the afternoon was Hogan’s presentation of his Center for Democratic Deliberation, which strives to foster civic engagement in schools and is based at Penn State. Hogan presented the Center for Democratic Deliberation in terms of its three objectives: research, education and public outreach. These objectives are not mutually exclusive, although Hogan addressed each separately to strengthen his assertion that democracy depends on open discourse and cooperation among civically intelligent citizens. Hogan emphasized the importance of each citizen’s individual contributions to democracy and the importance of civic knowledge for sustaining conversation.
I really enjoyed my day with Professor Hogan. The coolest part was during the afternoon talk when I got a personal shout out from him when he readdressed one of my questions from class in the morning!