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Wednesday, 12 November 1997, 1:00PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Orature, Oratory and Getting the Message Heard

Professor Lynette Hunter

The most valued aspect of our entire culture in England is probably the written word, yet many cultures around the world continue to maintain and value the oral. Conventional literary value counts on an artistic object that remains stable, so it is difficult to value verbal arts that change in performance, and they are often dismissed as crude and naive.

This lecture will focus on oral art forms from Africa and the Black Diaspora, including Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Wilson Harris, Kamau Brathwaite, Jamaica Kincaid, Grace Nichols, Noubese Phillip, Claire Harris and Rap.

professor-lynette-hunter

Lynette Hunter was the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric between 1997 and 2000.

She is currently Professor of the History and Rhetoric of Performance at the University of California, Davis. She was previously Senior Lecturer and then Reader in Rhetoric at the University of Leeds.

She has written and edited over twenty books and many essays in a range of disciplines from the history of rhetoric and literature, to philosophy and feminist theory, to post/neo-colonial studies (especially in Canada), to the history of science and computing, to women’s history and gender studies (from the early modern period), to performance studies. She has scripted, devised, produced and toured, several theory performance installations in Europe and North America and explores alternative ways of disseminating modes of knowing within aesthetics and scholarship.

When she was appointed to the Rhetoric Professorship at Gresham College in 1997, Professor Hunter wrote the following:

When Thomas Gresham included Rhetoric among the areas of study in his plan for a College, he was keeping a vital part of the Old Learning to contribute to all the New Knowlegde which he wanted to disseminate.

At its centre, rhetoric is concerned with value. We tend to use the word only in the negative sense in popular language, but all choice, good or bad, involves persuasion and therefore rhetoric. I intend to explore issues of literary value and work with words in a larger sense, in terms of the kinds of community that we are shaping for ourselves. We need to talk about these issues to understand our own New Knowledges.

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12 November 1997

Orature, Oratory and Getting the Message Heard
Professor Lynette Hunter

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