Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

A Postmodern Epideictic Celebrating Human Aspiration and Achievements

Dr Suzanne Larson, Patricia Paystrup.

Of all the classical forms of rhetoric, epideictic has made the most successful transition into post modernity as mediated celebrations of human aspirations and achievements. Two of the best contemporary examples of postmodern mediated epideictic are the every two-year spectacle of the Olympic competition and the constant uplifting and empowering messages packaged by Oprah Winfrey’s media based empire.
Often overlooked, epideictic may be the most resilient of the ancient forms. Anciently, epideictic was connected to ceremony, such as funerals or celebrations, where public speakers often praised the occasion or individuals. In the postmodern world, epideictic assumes a fluidity as mediated programs flow through our daily lives—refreshing our spirits and strengthening our resolve to make a difference. The new epideictic accentuates values and spurs us to act on those values by pointing to how others like us overcome challenges and find ways to excel. These two forms of epideictic urge us to action by showing otherwise ordinary people doing extraordinarily kind or heroic deeds.
This paper draws on reinterpretations of classical epideictic showing its metamorphous into a postmodern celebration motivating us to achieve what Oprah Winfrey’s labels “live your best life” and the Olympics call “sitius, altius, fortius,”


Dr Suzanne Larson  (United States)
Honors Program Director
Department of Communication
Southern Utah University

Professor of Communication and Director of the Honors Program at Southern Utah University. Ph.D. in Communication from University of Oregon.
Taught in higher education for 27 years.
Research interests include: epideictic rhetoric, problem based service learning, Shakespeare and on-line advocacy

Patricia Paystrup  (United States)

Southern Utah University

  • Postmodern
  • Olympics
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Heroic deeds

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)