‘Politics, issues and theatrics’ of 2012 presidential election focus of Arts & Sciences panel discussion

Four Arts & Sciences faculty members at Washington University in St. Louis will explore the “politics, issues and theatrics” of this year’s presidential election during a 6 p.m. panel discussion
 Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Laboratory Sciences Building, Room 300.

The event, which is part of the Arts & Sciences Connections Series (formerly Century Club Lecture Series), is free and open to the Washington University community. Alumni and Development for Arts & Sciences sponsors the lecture series.

 5:30 p.m. reception in Lab Sciences’ Rettner Gallery will precede the discussion, titled “Decision 2012.” 

Wayne Fields, PhD, a nationally known expert on rhetoric and American political argument, will serve as moderator.

His book Union of Words: A History of Presidential Eloquence (1996) examines the use of rhetoric in presidential speeches, from declarations of candidacy to nomination acceptances, inaugural addresses, state-of-the-union speeches, declarations of war, executive farewells and other special addresses.

The national media frequently call on Fields to interpret political speeches. He is the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English, American Literature and American Culture Studies.

The panelists are:

• Steven Fazzari, PhD, professor of economics and associate director of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy;

• David T. Konig, PhD, professor of history and of law; and

• William J. Whitaker, senior lecturer in drama in the Performing Arts Department.

Fazzari’s research explores two main areas: the financial determinants of investment and R&D spending by U.S. firms and the foundations of Keynesian macroeconomics.

His research and commentary on the economy and public policy issues have been highlighted in the national and international media.

Among other current research projects, Fazzari is co-editing a book that investigates the sources and responses to the U.S. “Great Recession” that began in late 2007.

With a joint appointment in the Department of History and the School of Law, Konig’s research interests concern the role of law in shaping the history of the American people.

With an interest in the way people have used the law to secure their rights and protect their liberties, Konig has written about racial equality (and inequality), property rights, and the troubled relationship of rights and the possession of firearms.

He is writing a biography of Thomas Jefferson, titled Nature’s Advocate: Thomas Jefferson and the Discovery of American Law. 


Whitaker is an expert in debate technique, stage presence and platform performance. He has led lectures analyzing the performances of presidential and vice presidential debates held at Washington University.

Whitaker developed a popular course called “Public Speaking: Embodied Communication,” which combines traditional public speaking training with performance techniques of theater and dance.

He has been a director and actor with many professional theatres, including City Players, The Washington Stage Guild, The Folger Theatre and New Playwright’s Theatre.

Space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, visit http://alumni.artsci.wustl.edu/rsvp-arts-sciences-connections-series.

For more information on the event, call Whitney Hollis at (314) 935-5368 or email