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Professor Lawrence J. Prelli to Speak on "Mapping Perspectives in Ecological Thought and Discourse"

On Monday, 10/6, the RWL Speaker Series will present a talk by Professor Lawrence J. Prelli on “Mapping Perspectives in Ecological Thought and Discourse: The Case of Plant Ecology During the Early Twentieth Century” from 3:30 until 5:00pm, in 1210 McClung Tower.

Lawrence J. Prelli

Public understandings of ecology associate the term with a natural science that largely speaks univocally about environmental issues. Prelli’s study shows in contrast that ecology is best characterized by important turns and transitions among a plurality of ecological perspectives. Boundaries among those perspectives are mapped according to the “master tropes” that prefigured them, using the ideas of Kenneth Burke and Hayden White for analytical guidance.  There is no single plant ecology during the early decades of the twentieth century, but a plurality of plant ecologies distinguishable by the tropes they respectively featured. Concepts and facts adduced by leading plant ecologists were imaginatively constituted by featured tropes as much as they were proven through logic and by empirical evidenceProfessor Prelli’s talk will discuss the implications of using the tropes to map terminological boundaries among perspectives participating in ecological discourse in comparison with the alternative of Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic pentad.

Lawrence J. Prelli is a professor of Communication and affiliate professor of English and of Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. He conducts scholarship in rhetorical theory and criticism, with special attention to environmental rhetoric, the rhetoric of ecology, and Kenneth Burke’s dramatism. He received the 2007 National Communication Association’s Golden Anniversary Monograph Award for a chapter in his edited book, Rhetorics of Display, and the Eastern Communication Association’s Everett Lee Hunt Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address for the book, A Rhetoric of Science: Inventing Scientific Discourse. Professor Prelli teaches courses on Propaganda and Persuasion, Persuasion and Public Problems, Principles of Rhetorical Criticism, and Rhetorics of Display.

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