Each year Dartmouth College recognizes a single lecturer for his or her outstanding academic research. We are happy to announce that this year's recipient of the Distinguished Lecturer Award is the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric's own Josh Compton.
Professor Compton is perhaps the world's leading scholar of what is known as inoculation theory. While conventional rhetorical analysis focuses on ways to achieve consensus and persuade audiences, inoculation theory examines how audiences may be insulated from such changes of mind--with helpful or harmful effects. As Compton explains, "the fundamental premise of inoculation theory is that we can be made resistant to persuasion in much the same way that we are made resistant to viruses. Exposure to weakened versions triggers a robust process of resistance to future, stronger threats." Compton's scholarship covers a diverse range of topics, demonstrating the broad application of inoculation theory to important subjects such as politics, economics, health, religion, and education. "It's a valuable line of scholarship," Compton commends, "in that it helps keep the study and practice of rhetoric vibrant and relevant, both in society in general and at Dartmouth College in particular."
Institute for Writing and Rhetoric director Christiane Donahue notes that Compton, an outstanding teacher here at Dartmouth, has been a leading voice nationally in promoting rhetoric as an essential liberal art. "The Institute for Writing and Rhetoric is honored to have Professor Compton anchoring our Speech program," she notes.