Letters To Power: Public Advocacy Without Public Intellectuals

Paperback | February 15, 2013

bySamuel McCormick

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Although the scarcity of public intellectuals among today’s academic professionals is certainly a cause for concern, it also serves as a challenge to explore alternative, more subtle forms of political intelligence. Letters to Power accepts this challenge, guiding readers through ancient, medieval, and modern traditions of learned advocacy in search of persuasive techniques, resistant practices, and ethical sensibilities for use in contemporary democratic public culture. At the center of this book are the political epistles of four renowned scholars: the Roman Stoic Seneca the Younger, the late-medieval feminist Christine de Pizan, the key Enlightenment thinker Immanuel Kant, and the Christian anti-philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Anticipating much of today’s online advocacy, their letter-writing helps would-be intellectuals understand the economy of personal and public address at work in contemporary relations of power, suggesting that the art of lettered protest, like letter-writing itself, involves appealing to diverse, and often strictly virtual, audiences. In this sense, Letters to Power is not only a nuanced historical study but also a book in search of a usable past.

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From the Publisher

Although the scarcity of public intellectuals among today’s academic professionals is certainly a cause for concern, it also serves as a challenge to explore alternative, more subtle forms of political intelligence. Letters to Power accepts this challenge, guiding readers through ancient, medieval, and modern traditions of learned advo...

Samuel McCormick is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University
Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.47 inPublished:February 15, 2013Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271050748

ISBN - 13:9780271050744

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

1 Minor Political Rhetorics, Major Western Thinkers

2 Remaining Concealed: Lettered Protest Between Stoicism and the State

3 Mirrors for the Queen: Exemplary Figures on the Eve of Civil War

4 Performative Publicity: The Critique of Private Reason

5 Distinction Turned Around: The Rhetoric of Unrecognizability

6 Oppositional Politics in the Age of Academia

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Complex, though succinct, scholarship often yields succinct, though complex, lessons. Put succinctly, Samuel McCormick’s Letters to Power teaches that to contend with power one must live and endure. . . . As McCormick’s well-footnoted and emphatic arguments suggest, rhetoric’s capacity to disarm power resides with an accepted, intricate methodological framework from which one recognizes varying capacities for deference and dissent.”—James H. Collier, Rhetoric & Public Affairs