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COMS 460Political Communication

COMS 465Rhetoric and Communication


COMS 421Communicative Performances and Interventions (Focus on Jazz and Culture)

COMS 662Representation and Interpretation (Focus on Rhetoric)


My other life as a jazz singer

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Maurice Charland


BA, Mathematics; Film and Communication, McGill University

MA, Mass Communication, Iowa State University

PhD, Communication, University of Iowa

I work in Rhetorical Studies, which is concerned with the power, politics, and ethics of public communication. I focus on the intersection of rhetorical theory, political philosophy, and the study of 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.).

In the first of these, I theorize the formation in discourse of a Quebec national identity and a Québécois subject through a transhistorical narrative. This narrative seeks to legitimize power and a claim on the future.

In the second of these, I examine the construction of Canadian national identity through narrative 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). 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, we 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 speech 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: December 09, 2013 – 12:18
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