Rhetorical Education and the Democratic Mission of the School: Preparing Students for Academic and Civic Life‘ is a conference at Örebro University, October 24-26, 2017.

The 2011 Curriculum for Upper-Secondary School has put rhetoric back on the syllabus for both the English and Swedish subjects. For the first time in two centuries, rhetoric has a significant role to play in developing the communicative abilities of secondary school students in Sweden. Thus, there is a need to understand and develop its educational potential.

Rhetoric may be defined as the investigation, critical understanding, and production of persuasive language. Its educational goal is to enhance agency by enabling students to make purposeful decisions about their communicative practices. Traditionally the reserve of ruling-class men, rhetoric today can be made available to all citizens, regardless of race, gender, or religion. This conference will bring together researchers in education and rhetoric to explore how rhetorical education and pedagogy—inspired by the rhetorical tradition and modified and updated for the twenty-first century—can enhance language arts teaching in secondary education today. How can rhetoric revitalize the language arts? How can it enrich students’ literacy experiences across the disciplines? How can it help them develop communicative agency and carry it into the public sphere—at work, at university, and in civic life? In addition to addressing these questions, researchers will discuss applications with teachers and teacher educators and identify further areas of research that hold promise for enhancing the democratic impact of secondary school.

This project has been made possible by a research initiation grant from Riksbanken Jubileumsfond.