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Nathan Crick

Headshot of Dr. Nathan Crick
Areas of Speciality
  • Rhetoric and Public Affairs
  • BLTN 209A
Professional Links


Academia IconTwitter IconDr. Crick investigates the many intersections between rhetoric, art, science, media, and philosophy in order to better understand the complex movements of both classical and contemporary political culture. In addition to his theoretical interests in classical rhetoric and American pragmatism, he also researches the periods of the Italian Renaissance, the New England Transcendentalists, and 20th century social reformers.



Dr. Crick’s work explores the relationship between and power throughout different periods of political and social change, focusing specifically on those factors which are result of conscious strategies of persuasion by individuals or groups. This goal requires research into a variety of diverse topics, roughly including classical rhetorical theory, social media, the structure of news, religious rhetoric, modern propaganda, the rhetoric of science and technology, the power of aesthetics, the dynamics of social movements, and the history of philosophy. His first book, Democracy and Rhetoric: John Dewey on the Arts of Becoming, uses Dewey’s philosophy to construct a view of rhetoric, logic, and aesthetics that is consistent with an ethics of democracy that promotes creative individuality. His second book, Rhetoric and Power: The Drama of Classical Greece, explores through the texts of canonical authors like Aeschylus, Gorgias, Thucydides, and Plato how rhetoric was conceptualized as a means of constituting and transforming power in Greek political culture. His third book, The Keys of Power: The Rhetoric and Politics of Transcendentalism, interprets the writing and thought of figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller as active rhetorical engagements with the political controversies of their time.

Courses Taught

COMM 203: Public Speaking (Honors)
COMM 301: Rhetoric in Western Thought
COMM 431: The Rhetoric of Social Movements
COMM 434: Topics in Rhetorical Theory: Rhetoric and Power
COMM 649: American Public Discourse up to 1860 (graduate level)
COMM 654: Classical Rhetoric (graduate level)
COMM 655: Contemporary Rhetorical Theory (graduate level)

Representative Publications


book: The Keys of Power

Crick, Nathan. The Keys of Power: The Rhetoric and Politics of Transcendentalism. Columbia, SC. University of South Carolina Press, 2017.

Nathan Crick has crafted a new critical rhetorical history of American Transcendentalists that interprets a selection of their major works between the years 1821 and 1852 as political and ethical responses to the growing crises of their times In The Keys of Power, Crick argues that one of the most enduring legacies of the Transcendentalist movement is the multifaceted understanding of transcendental eloquence as a distinct rhetorical genre concerned primarily and self-consciously with questions of power.



book: Rhetoric and Power


Crick, Nathan. Rhetoric and Power: The Drama of Classical Greece. Columbia, SC. University of South Carolina Press, 2014.

Rhetoric and Power dramatizes the history of rhetoric by explaining its origin and development in classical Greece beginning with the oral displays of Homeric eloquence in a time of kings, following its ascent to power during the age of Pericles and the Sophists, and ending with its transformation into a rational discipline with Aristotle in a time of literacy and empire. Crick advances the thesis that rhetoric is primarily a medium and artistry of power, but that the relationship between rhetoric and power at any point in time is a produce of historical conditions, not the least of which is the development and availability of communication media.


book: Democracy and Rhetoric

Crick, Nathan. Democracy and Rhetoric: John Dewey on the Arts of Becoming. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010.

Democracy and Rhetoric articulates from John Dewey’s body of work a philosophy of rhetoric that reveals the necessity for bringing forth a democratic life infused with the spirit of ethics, a method of inquiry, and a sense of beauty. In his rhetorical reading of Dewey, Crick examines the sophistical underpinnings of Dewey’s philosophy and finds it much more informed by notions of radical individuality, aesthetic experience, creative intelligence, and persuasive advocacy as essential to the formation of communities of judgement.



book: Rhetorical Public Speaking

Crick, Nathan. Rhetorical Pubic Speaking: Civic Engagement in the Digital Age. Routledge, 3rd Edition.

Rhetorical Public Speaking: Civic Engagement in the Digital Age, Third Edition offers students an innovative approach to public speaking by employing the rhetorical canon as a means of constructing artful speech in a multi-mediated environment. It provides a foundation to guide students in understanding, constructing, and delivering messages that address matters of public concern. This edition features contemporary as well as historical examples to highlight key concepts and show how rhetoric works in practice. Each chapter includes speech excerpts, summaries, and exercises for review and retention. Students of public speaking are encouraged to employ their new skills as engaged citizens of society.