CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 27, 2000
UI civility symposium includes discussion on Clinton-Lewinsky scandal
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Through the ages, societies have defined what is proper
and acceptable in public discourse and behavior. In the beginning of the 21st
century in America, there are some who decry the demise of such standards,
saying that in an age of school shootings, sexual harassment lawsuits, and
exposes of politicians' personal lives, Americans are losing a once-important
sense of civility.
A group of scholars will gather at the University of Iowa May 4-6 to discuss
the changing notion of civility and its impact on society, as reflected in
a variety of academic disciplines.
During the symposium, there will be a free public lecture and discussion
about how the two-year Clinton-Lewinsky scandal stretched the definition of
civility in politics and public discourse. The presentation will be held from
3-5 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol, with a reception immediately
following. The reception is also free and open to the public.
At the public presentation, Laura Kipnis, an associate professor of radio,
TV, and film at Northwestern University, will speak on "Kissing and Telling,"
and Toby Miller, a professor of cinema studies at New York University, will
discuss "The First Penis Impeached." These papers will examine the
need for a constant discussion of civility as decisions are made as to what
is appropriate for public discourse.
"The public presentation during the symposium will look at civility
through a media spectacle," said Melissa Deem, a UI assistant professor
of rhetoric and the primary organizer of the symposium. "The two papers
will use a well-known series of events in recent history as a springboard
into a discussion of the changing norms of acceptable speech within U.S. public
In addition to Deem, Kipnis and Miller, conference participants include:
Michael Leff, professor of communication at Northwestern University; Robert
Hariman, professor of rhetoric and communication studies at Drake University;
Kirt Wilson, assistant professor of speech at University of Minnesota; Fred
Antczak, UI professor of rhetoric and associate dean of the College of Liberal
Arts; and Ken Cmiel, UI professor of history.
The symposium is co-sponsored by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies,
the National Communication Association, the UI Office of the Vice President
for Research, the UI's A. Craig Baird Debate Forum, the Project on the Rhetoric
of Inquiry, the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the UI
Departments of Communication Studies, History, Political Science, and Rhetoric.
More information on the symposium and the public presentation is available
on the Web at http://www.uiowa.edu/~obermann/civility.html