Rhetorical Occasions

Essays on Humans and the Humanities

By Michael Bérubé

368 pp., 6 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5777-9
    Published: October 2006
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7738-8
    Published: September 2007

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A nationally known scholar, essayist, and public advocate for the humanities, Michael Bérubé has a rapier wit and a singular talent for parsing complex philosophical, theoretical, and political questions. Rhetorical Occasions collects twenty-four of his major essays and reviews, plus a sampling of entries on literary theory and contemporary culture from his award-winning weblog.

Selected to showcase the range of public writing available to scholars, the essays are grouped into five topical sections: the Sokal hoax and its effects on the humanities; cosmopolitanism, American studies, and cultural studies; daily academic life inside and outside the classroom; the events of September 11, 2001, and their political aftermath; and the potential discursive and tonal range of academic blog writing. In lively and entertaining prose, Bérubé offers a wide array of interventions into matters academic and nonacademic. By example and illustration, he reminds readers that the humanities remain central to our understanding of what it means to be human.

About the Author

Michael Berube is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University, where he is also director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. His six books include What's Liberal about the Liberal Arts?: Classroom Politics and "Bias" in Higher Education and Life As We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child. He writes frequently for many national publications and hosts the blog www.michaelberube.com.
For more information about Michael Bérubé, visit the Author Page.


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“Warning: these essays can provoke fits of uncontrollable laughter. But don't be fooled. For all his wicked wit, Michael Bérubé is less an entertainer than a reformer, a man with a passionate vision of how things might be in America and of how the humanities are and aren't helping to get us there. As constructive and responsible as he is searching and original, Bérubé is that rarest of figures, a polemicist who listens to his opponents, a cultural commentator more interested in getting it right than in sounding clever. And his version of what's right is one that everyone, right or left, should be paying attention to.”--Bruce Robbins, Columbia University

"Bérubé is always good to read on a great many different subjects. This exceptional collection models a range of writing possibilities for scholars in the humanities that represent the multiplicity of practices that engage our attention. Very often a single piece can be read productively by a lot of different audiences. Together, these essays are evidence that Bérubé is one of the most effective writers in the discipline."--Evan Watkins, University of California, Davis