NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ972828
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0033-5630
Lonely Courage, Commemorative Confrontation, and Communal Therapy: William James Remembers the Massachusetts 54th
Stob, Paul
Quarterly Journal of Speech, v98 n3 p249-271 2012
On May 31, 1897, William James, one of America's most influential philosophers and psychologists, delivered the first civic oration of his career. The principal orator at the dedication of the Robert Gould Shaw memorial in Boston, James did what commemorative speakers are not supposed to do. He chose to be confrontational and divisive in a situation that called for exactly the opposite. Nevertheless, upon conclusion of his speech the audience erupted in applause, hailing his remarks as both unconventional and fitting. In this essay, I explore how James's speech could be both unconventional and fitting. I argue that his Shaw memorial oration demonstrates a style of commemorative discourse that is conflictual, even disruptive, yet capable of serving the ends of the epideictic tradition. As I show, James used his intellectual ethos as the nation's leading psychologist to construct a kind of communal therapy session, at the heart of which was the notion of "lonely courage." With this strangely individualistic civic virtue, James turned his audience from spectators gazing upon the Shaw memorial to active participants in the memorial's meaning. Ultimately, his individualistic notion of civic virtue stands as an alternative to other forms of civic virtue and to the patterns of epideictic discourse that authorize them. (Contains 1 figure and 105 notes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts