University of Pittsburgh
September 27, 2010

Pitt Department of Communication to Host the 12th Biennial Public Address Conference Sept. 30-Oct. 2

The conference title is “Human Rights Rhetoric: Controversies, Conundrums, and Community Actions”
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Communication will host the 12th Biennial Public Address Conference titled “Human Rights Rhetoric:  Controversies, Conundrums, and Community Actions” from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the Holiday Inn Select–University Center, 100 Lytton Ave., Oakland. 

Sponsored by Pitt Department of Communication’s Jack Matthews Endowment Fund and the Arts and Sciences Faculty Research and Scholarship Program, among others, the conference features lectures, breakout sessions, as well as a banquet at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 to recognize Professor David Zarefsky of Northwestern University, this year’s conference honoree. 

Zarefsky is the Owen L. Coon Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern. He is being honored for his significant contributions to the subjects of human rights, rhetoric, and public address that include more than 70 published articles in professional journals. 

Kirt Wilson, associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Pennsylvania State University, will deliver the Sept. 30 lecture titled “More Than Civil Rights: The Fight for Black Freedom as a Human Rights Struggle.” The lecture is open only to conference registrants. In his talk, Wilson will acknowledge the history of racism in the United States. 

Two public lectures will be held in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland. Mari Boor Tonn, associate professor of rhetoric at the University of Richmond, will present a lecture titled “From the Eye to the Soul: Industrial Labor’s Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones, and the Rhetorics of Display” at 4 p.m. Oct. 1. Tonn will highlight Jones’ contribution to the transformation of human rights through its use of visual communication. Stephen John Hartnett, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado at Denver, will deliver a lecture titled “Speaking With the Damned: or, Prison Education, Social Justice, and Communication as a Human Right” at 4 p.m. Oct. 2. Hartnett will discuss the human rights of individuals in America’s prison system and also present poetry and writings by prisoners. 

Each of the lectures features respondents who will contribute to the discussions following the lectures. 

For the complete conference schedule, visit For more information regarding registration or the conference, contact Pitt professor Lester Olson at 



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