(OLLI AT UVM PRESENTS) "Let Us Have Faith tha Right Makes Might": Proverbial Rhetoric in Decisive Moments of American Politics with Wolfgang Mieder
The fascination with proverbs can be traced back to the earliest written records. Proverbs have been collected throughout the world, with literally thousands of collections attesting to the ubiquity of this traditional wisdom literature couched in short metaphorical and easily to remember sentences. Scholars of diverse fields, but notably folklorists, linguists, and cultural historians have long shown that these traditional bits of wisdom play a major role in everyday oral and written communication. And yet, it is amazing that despite some isolated studies relatively little is known about the effective use of proverbs in the political fray.
By way of some poignant contextualized examples from the past three centuries it will be shown that there exists an obvious predominance of proverbs in American political discourse. Some truly remarkable proverbial utterances by such renowned political figures as Abigail and John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama will serve to illustrate that proverbs can obtain incredible importance in political rhetoric that goes far beyond the almost subconscious use of a seemingly mundane proverb.
There can be no doubt that proverbs as strategically used folk wisdom continue to be significant communicative devices that deserve close scrutiny.
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