Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it

I was recently reminded that Robert Oliver, author of Communication in Ancient China and India (1971), worked as a publicizer of and ghostwriter for Syngman Rhee, Korea's first (through third) post-WWII president. Oliver wrote quite a few pamphlets and books about Korea and Rhee (Korea's Fight for Freedom, Why War Came in Korea, The Truth about Korea, Syngman Rhee: The Man Behind the Myth, etc.). He also gave a lot of speeches about Korea that have been published in various issues of Vital Speeches of the Day. Rhee, a strong anti-Communist, left office in 1960 after protests regarding the 1960 election and was exiled in Hawai'i.

This got me to thinking about the possible relationships between Oliver's work as a scholar of rhetoric (particularly intercultural rhetoric) and his Cold War-era rhetorical work for Rhee. I haven't seen anyone in the field of rhetoric write about Oliver's work on Korea--no dissertations, book chapters, or even articles. Goodwin Berquist has a little to say about Oliver's Korea period in "The Rhetorical Travels of Robert T. Oliver", but it's not a critical article. Oliver himself mentions his work with Rhee in his memoir The Way It Was--All the Way, but it doesn't appear that anyone else has taken up this topic.

But I don't really have time to work on this topic. So I'm passing it out to whoever wants to work on it, assuming no one has thought of this topic before. If anyone picks it up, I'd be grateful to hear about it. It might make a good paper for the RSA 2008 conference that's focusing on the responsibilities of rhetoric. Might even make a good dissertation topic.

[Update, 6/21/07: There's an article about ghostwriting from the Journal of Business Ethics that mentions Oliver and cites a 1991 book chapter in which Oliver is interviewed. Surprisingly, our library has that book...]

2 comments:

susansinclair said...

I've tried this technique. Let me know if you have any luck with it! ;)

Jonathan Benda said...

You'll know as soon as I know! ;)