The Public Address Conference has met biennially at the nation’s premier sites of
rhetoric study for nearly 25 years.
Held during several days, the event assembles national leaders in the study of rhetoric
and public address. Although it has undergone changes from time to time, its basic
structure has remained the same: A series of lectures, each followed by formal responses
from a select group of scholars and extended periods of question and answer from attendees.
Past themes have included: “Discourse of Violence, Discourses of Community” (2002,
University of Georgia), “Constituting Political Culture” (2004, University of Maryland),
“Arts of Praise and Blame” (2006, Vanderbilt University), “Representing the Republic
(2008, University of Wisconsin), and “Human Rights Rhetoric” (2010, University of
Conceived by the late Michael Leff, former chair of the Department of Communication
at the University of Memphis, and David Zarefsky, professor emeritus in the Department
of Communication Studies at Northwestern University's School of Communication, the
conference first met at the University of Wisconsin in 1988.