Bradford Vivian

May 2, 2023

Campus Misinformation with Bradford Vivian

Free Speech 69

New Books Network 2023

purchase at bookshop.org

State censorship and cancel culture, trigger warnings and safe spaces, pseudoscience, First Amendment hardball, as well as orthodoxy and groupthink: universities remain a site for important battles in the culture wars. What is the larger meaning of these debates? Are American universities at risk of conceding to mobs and cuddled “snowflake” students and sacrifice the hallowed values of free speech and academic inquiry? Bradford Vivian examines the heated debates over campus misinformation as a language unto itself that confirms existing notions and often provides simple explanations for complex shared problems. In his book, Campus Misinformation: The Real Threat to Free Speech in American Higher Education (Oxford UP, 2022), he shows how the free speech crisis on US college campuses has been manufactured through misinformation, distortion, and political ideology, and how campus misinformation is a threat not only to academic freedom but also to civil liberties in US society writ large.

In our conversation, Bradford explained how campus speech crises are used – and also how faculty, administrators, students and others can recognize recurring patterns and properly respond, for example to distinguish between abuses of scientific evidence and sound scientific claims in public argument. Bradford Vivian is a professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. His research and teaching focuses on theories of rhetoric (or the art of persuasion) and public controversies over memory, history, speech and other issues. Among his books are Commonplace Witnessing: Rhetorical Invention, Historical Remembrance, and Public Culture (Oxford University Press), Public Forgetting: The Rhetoric and Politics of Beginning Again (Penn State Press) and Being Made Strange: Rhetoric beyond Representation (SUNY Press). He is also co-editor, with Anne Teresa Demo, of Rhetoric, Remembrance, and Visual Form: Sighting Memory (Routledge). He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend and, from the National Communication Association, the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, the Critical/Cultural Studies Division Book of the Year Award, and the Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award.

Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Think About It” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email ucb1@nyu.edu; Twitter @UliBaer.

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Uli Baer

Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Think About It” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email ucb1@nyu.edu; Twitter @UliBaer.

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