Nature and the Environment in American Public Address

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Call for book chapter abstracts
December 15, 2011

Call for Chapter Proposals: Collection on Nature and the Environment in American Public Address
According to M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Jacqueline S. Palmer, “As much as the environmental dilemma is a problem of ethics and epistemology, it is also a problem of discourse” (Killingsworth & Palmer, 1992, p. 6). Although there has been an abundance of texts dedicated to analyzing the written works of environmental activists and leaders, very little has been written about their spoken words. This oversight is concerning given Wayland Maxfield Parrish’s modest observation that “…speeches have often been instrumental in shaping the course of history, in defining and strengthening a people’s ideals, and in determining its culture” (Parrish, 1969, p. 2). In specific reference to the environmental movement, Alon Tal has more recently noted, “the ‘oration’ has been a central mechanism for galvanizing change” (Tal, 2006, p. xv). The speeches of environmental leaders are social repositories that allow us to glean reflections about prevailing attitudes and ideas of their respective moments in time. Indeed, we agree with Ernest Wrage that “adequate social and intellectual history cannot be written without reference to public speaking as it contributed to the ideas injected into public consciousness” (Wrage, 1947, p. 457). Thus, Green Voices: Nature and the Environment in American Public Address aims to redress this paucity of scholarship. After all, when it comes to the leaders, heroes, and activists of the environmental movement, “there is no better way to understand their environmental vision, than through their spoken words” (Tal, 2006, p. xx).
Richard D. Besel and Bernard K. Duffy of California Polytechnic State University invite proposals for additional original essays addressing important, yet relatively unknown or unexamined, speeches delivered by well-known or influential environmental figures. Chapter proposals that have already been accepted include analyses of Lois Gibbs’ testimony before the U.S. Congress, Sigurd Olson’s speeches on the role of science in environmental policy making, and David Brower’s “The Sermon.” We welcome submissions using humanistic/textual methodological approaches from a variety of critical, cultural, historical, rhetorical, and/or political origins.

Send your proposed chapter abstract (no more than 300 words) and brief biographical sketch to Profs. Richard D. Besel  ( and Bernard K. Duffy ( by December 15, 2011.