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Forensics in America: A History Hardcover – November 7, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1442226203 ISBN-10: 144222620X

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Editorial Reviews


Through an examination of written histories and other materials, communication scholars Michael Bartanen and Robert Littlefield deliver the first historical account of the evolution of forensics in the US. The authors identify the systemic variables affecting this evolution, including the cultural dimensions of forensics activities. In part 1, they trace the historical context of the practice of forensics from the era of public oratory through the era of technology. In part 2, they address the pedagogical growth and development of competitive forensics. And in the third and last part, they focus on the sociocultural dimensions of the field. In a particularly compelling chapter, the authors discuss "absent histories" and offer a holistic understanding of African American participation in forensics in the US. The helpful tables the authors provide allow readers to more easily comprehend dense and complicated material. As the first work to trace how forensics undergirds the tradition of American public address, this book is an invaluable resource. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. (CHOICE)

Forensics in America should be in every department library, on every professor’s bookshelf, and in every student competitor's backpack. (James Copeland, Executive Director-Emeritus, National Forensic League)

The authors are the experts in the field. They develop a coherent and important argument. This is the first comprehensive history of American forensics and I predict it will stand as the history of forensics for the next 100 years.
(David A. Frank, Professor of Rhetoric, University of Oregon)

Forensics in America: A History does an excellent job of starting at the formation of forensics and describes its growth and role in America. It also explains the link between forensics and the formation of communication departments and forensic organizations.
(Gina Jensen, Assistant Director of Forensics and Debate, Webster University)

The history is vital to the activity, but much of what is known, especially what is known to younger coaches/directors is myth - passed on because one person five years ago did something. This history clears up many of the myths. The major strength of this book includes the research and the explanations. Forensics in America is very clear and follows a logical progression. If you are interested in learning about the history of forensic activity, or teaching it, this book is a necessary component.
(Nina-Jo Moore, Professor of Communication, Appalachian State University)

About the Author

Michael Bartanen is professor of communication and chair of the department of communication and theatre at Pacific Lutheran University. Bartanen has taught at Pacific Lutheran since 1979. He is the author or co-author of four previous books in forensics theory which were well-received by reviewers, and a number of journal articles and conference presentations. He has been active in forensics education and service in many forensics organizations, most recently, Pi Kappa Delta which is the largest collegiate forensics honorary society in the United States.

Robert S. Littlefield is professor of communication at North Dakota State University. He is a life-long forensic educator, having taught at North Dakota State University since 1979. He is the author, co-author, or editor of three previous books, one of which focused on the history of forensics in North Dakota during the 20th Century. He has published over 75 journal articles (30+ on forensics-related topics, given nearly 100 conference presentations (50+ on forensics-related topics), and currently serves as Editor of Communication Studies, the journal of the Central States Communication Association published by Taylor & Francis.

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