Hauser, Gerard A. 1943-

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Hauser, Gerard A. 1943-


Born May 20, 1943, in Buffalo, NY; son of Albert Clement (a police officer) and Ann John Hauser; married Jean Marie Brown, August 14, 1965; children: Gerard A., Kirsten Suzanne Hauser Hofmoekel. Ethnicity: "American." Education: Canisius College, B.A., 1965; University of Wisconsin—Madison, M.A., 1966, Ph.D., 1970. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, cooking, ballroom dancing.


Home—Boulder, CO. Office—Department of Communication, CB 270, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0270; fax: 303-492-8411. E-mail—[email protected].


Pennsylvania State University, University Park, professor of speech communication, 1969-93, director of university scholars program, 1987-93; University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, professor of communication and department chair, 1993—.


International Society for the History of Rhetoric, National Communication Association, Rhetoric Society of America (fellow).


Marie Hochmuth Nicholas Book Award, National Communication Association, 2000, for Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres; George E. Yoos Distinguished Service Award, Rhetoric Society of America, 2004; named distinguished scholar, National Communication Association, 2005; named college professor of distinction, 2007.


Introduction to Rhetorical Theory, Waveland (Prospect Heights, IL), 1986, 2nd edition, 2002.

Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1999.

(Editor, with Amy Grim) Rhetorical Democracy: Discursive Practices of Civic Engagement, Selected Papers from the 2002 Conference of the Rhetoric Society of America, Lawrence Erlbaum (Mahwah, NJ), 2003.

(Editor) Philosophy and Rhetoric in Dialogue: Redrawing Their Intellectual Landscape, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 2007.


Gerard A. Hauser once told CA: "I write in order to better understand my world and what I think about it. I find that, as I write, I come face to face with my own lack of clarity, my need to gather more information or to think more deeply. It is a selfish motive, but also a necessary one if I am to teach college students in ways that provoke them to get past the obvious or to challenge their own presuppositions. If I am not clear on what I know and where I am ignorant, how can I expect more of them?

"My work has been influenced first by caring teachers. Robert Chambers, my high school English teacher in freshman and sophomore years, made reading and experiencing texts come alive. Father Louis Gansel, who was the faculty moderator of our high school civics club, inspired me to believe that ideas have consequences worth caring about. Donald Cushman, my undergraduate rhetoric teacher, taught me to think on my own and to love intellectual work. Lloyd Bitzer, my doctoral mentor, taught me the intellectual practice of scholarship. All of them shared passion for ideas and instilled the same in me. I also have been influenced by my students, whose boundless curiosity and creative extensions of course content have opened my mind to noncanonical understandings of rhetoric. Finally, my family, a blue-collar family, engaged me in spirited conversation from childhood onward. They taught me that you don't need a college education to think critically or to be a good citizen, and that exploring disagreements is an important part of learning and growing.

"I try to read until I think I am no longer learning new ideas or acquiring relevant new information. I write my introductions first in fits and starts. I list ideas, try to organize them, write a few paragraphs, rethink what I thought I was arguing, and so forth. I find that once I have written the introduction, the rest of the essay or chapter is structured in my mind, and I have an easier time getting it on paper. I try to write five solid pages a day. I write at the same place and same time of day, usually in the morning. I try to block out time to complete a project in a sustained way from beginning to end."

Hauser later added: "The writing process is always a learning experience, even when I am writing about ideas, people, and events I know quite well. To write well, I need to imagine an audience so that my arguments and prose will be appropriate, clear and convincing. My best audience is my imagined undergraduate students. Undergraduates require clarity and expect that what they read will be interesting. They do not cut a writer much slack; if the chapter isn't clear and if it doesn't have something concrete that connects ideas to the worlds they inhabit, they complain, sometimes they give up, and often they dismiss it as irrelevant to their lives. Writing for them has helped me develop into a clearer and, I hope, more interesting writer. However, the most surprising insight from writing for students is that I do my best theoretical writing when I build my discussion through a representative concrete case. This insight has helped me to keep my work grounded in lived experiences, to show how a theory applies to what citizens actually do in problematic situations. It also has made it easier for me to develop a theoretical argument.

"My favorite book is Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres. It makes an original statement about public spheres, which has been a central concern in the social sciences and humanities since the 1970s. Developing the theoretical part of the book was exciting because it presents some fresh ideas, but what makes it my favorite book are the case studies of important events and the important role of citizen voices in shaping them. The level of political engagement and intelligence of citizens often are dismissed. I believe that is because we look in the wrong places to find out what they think and how they express their views. The ordinary citizen often finds alternative public spheres from official ones to explore issues that affect their lives. They also have many [alternatives in which] to express public opinion besides through opinion polls. Exploring how citizen voices were brought to bear on important events and exploring the cultural and often highly inventive ways they expressed opinions, sometimes mobilized themselves, and attempted to exert influence on leaders was fascinating and proved highly instructive about how democracy is lived.

"I write about rhetoric, which is often misunderstood as empty talk. Rhetoric is sometimes defined as the art of persuasion, but I prefer to think of it as the way communication exerts influence. We cannot help but engage in rhetoric every time we speak or write or engage in any form of social exchange. For that reason, it plays a major role in shaping the human world, either for the better or the worse. I hope my books open their readers to the pervasive role of rhetoric in human experience and provoke readers to think in new ways about their everyday lives as citizens and as social beings. I hope they inspire their readers to argue with me, to think more critically about how they and others try to exert influence, to instill compassion for those who are struggling against oppression, to understand democracy as a way of living more than as voting, and to appreciate how paying attention and thinking about what we are doing can lead to public and private change."