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COMS 372Theories of Public Discourse

COMS 465Rhetoric and Communication

COMS 893DDiscourse, Rhetoric, Affect


COMS 460Political Communication

COMS 462Communication, Culture, Popular Art (Focus on Jazz)


My other life as a jazz singer


Maurice Charland


BA, Mathematics; Film and Communication, McGill University

BFA, Jazz Studies, Concordia University

MSc, Mass Communication, Iowa State University

PhD, Communication (Rhetoric) and Theatre Arts , University of Iowa

I work in Rhetorical Studies, the field within communication that is concerned with the practice, meaning, effectivity, and ethics of public discourse. I lstudy political argument and performance within public culture. Much of my work seeks to bring classical rhetorical theory into conversation with postmodern thought.

I am best known for “Constitutive Rhetoric: The Case of the Peuple Quebecois (Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1987) and Technological Nationalism, (Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, 1986.).

“Constitutive Rhetoric,” which won the National Communication Association’s Ehninger award in 2000, theorizes the formation in discourse of a Quebec national identity and a Québécois subject through a transhistorical rhetorical narrative. This narrative seeks to legitimize power and a claim on the future.

“Technological Nationalism” examines the construction of Canadian national identity through narratives of technology, mediation, and nation-building: Cue Gordon Lightfoot: “there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run.”

My other major work is Law, Rhetoric, and Irony in the Formation of Canadian Civil Culture, co-authored with Michael Dorland of Carleton University (U of Toronto Press, 2002) — CCA Best Book Award 2002. It offers a broad sweep of Canadian political history, focusing on the styles and forms of address through which power has been mediated in Canada. With particular emphasis on law and constitution, Michael and I traced the development of Canada from a French colony to a sovereign country, discussing not only the forms of address of former French subjects, but also the strategies of Louis Riel and early Canadian feminists.

In all of this, I have been primarily concerned with the way in which discourse rhetorically constitutes the basic categories for political community and practical judgment. My other related research interests include South African Studies, the aesthetics of political argument, the work of Jean-François Lyotard, the place of impiety in democracy, and most recently jazz and jazz culture.

I am also a jazz vocalist. Check out my artist site at

Last update: May 21, 2014 – 14:53