A Lecture and Conversation about the Aim of Eloquence in the 21st Century – Cinthia Gannett, Associate Professor of English and Director of Core Writing at Fairfield University
This presentation will provide an overview of Jesuit rhetorical traditions, particularly focusing on the past, present and future of eloquentia perfecta. We will consider the capacious Renaissance sense and scope of rhetoric as it was enacted in what the Jesuits referred to as “ministries of the word,” and how it has acted (and been enacted pedagogically over the centuries) as a centering aim of Jesuit education in the form of eloquentia perfecta. The aim of a Jesuit rhetorical education has always been to foster the development of students who are informed, ethical, civil, sympathetic, articulate writers and speakers, willing and committed to engage with their larger communities through the careful use of words, not weapons. The effective practice of rhetoric in any field or domain in this context also invokes “action,” through persuasion, decisions taken, laws passed, knowledge shared, policies created, and other physical action as well.
We will also examine some of the current experiments in American Jesuit higher education on reimagining the roles and sites of rhetorical education, as a way of offering context University of San Francisco’s eloquence initiatives. In particular, we’ll look at Loyola of Maryland, Fairfield, Fordham, and Seattle University as well as other schools as current examples of efforts to recreate a modern version of education for eloquentia perfecta for the 21st century.
About the speaker:
Cinthia Gannett is Associate Professor of English and Director of Core Writing at Fairfield University. She is the author of Gender and the Journal and many professional and scholarly articles in the U.S. and abroad. Previously she directed the Writing Center and Writing across the Curriculum Programs at Loyola College of Maryland and the University of New Hampshire. Currently serving on the College Composition and Communication Editorial Board, she has also served on the Executive Board of the Rhetoric Society of America and chaired the Jesuit Conference on Rhetoric and Composition and Rhetoric (JCRC) from 2012-2015.
She has been working with her JCRC colleagues at Fairfield and other Jesuit colleges to renew eloquentia perfecta as a core aim of Jesuit education. Fordham University Press will publish her co-edited collection on the Jesuits and rhetoric, Traditions of Eloquence: The Jesuits and Modern Rhetorical Studies in Spring 2105. Her short essay on eloquentia perfecta and the Spiritual Exercises appeared in the January 2015 issue of Conversations. Her other scholarly interests include international writing studies and action research in rhetorical and writing studies. For Fall 2015, she will be a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies (Boston College) working on a historiography of Jesuit rhetoric and promoting an international network of scholars interested in Jesuit rhetorics (past, present, and future).