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Dr. Maurice Charland, PhD

Professor, Communication Studies


Dr. Maurice Charland, PhD
Office: L-CJ 4261  
Communication Studies and Journalism Building,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2546
Website(s): Maurice Charland website
Availability: Email me to set up an appointment.

I work in Rhetorical Studies, the field within communication that is concerned with the practice, meaning, effectivity, and ethics of public discourse. I study political argument and performance within public culture. Much of my work seeks to bring classical rhetorical theory into conversation with contemporary thought.

My best known works are “Constitutive Rhetoric: The Case of the Peuple Québécois," Quarterly Journal of Speech (1987) and "Technological Nationalism," Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory (1986.).

“Constitutive Rhetoric,” which won the National Communication Association’s Ehninger award in 2000, theorizes the formation in discourse of a Quebec national identity and a Québécois subject through a transhistorical rhetorical narrative. This narrative seeks to legitimize power and make a claim on the future.

“Technological Nationalism” examines the construction of Canadian national identity through narratives of technology, mediation, and nation-building: Cue Gordon Lightfoot: “there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run.”

My other major work is Law, Rhetoric, and Irony in the Formation of Canadian Civil Culture, co-authored with Michael Dorland of Carleton University (U of Toronto Press, 2002), which won the CCA Best Book Award 2002. It offers a broad sweep of Canadian political history, focusing on the styles and forms of address through which power has been mediated in Canada. With particular emphasis on law and constitution, Prof. Dorland and I traced the development of Canada from a French colony to a sovereign country, discussing not only the forms of address of former French subjects, but also the strategies of Louis Riel and early Canadian feminists.

In all of this, I have been primarily concerned with the way in which discourse rhetorically constitutes the basic categories for political community and practical judgment.

My other related research interests include South African Studies, the aesthetics of political argument, the work of Jean-François Lyotard, the place of impiety in democracy, and most recently jazz and jazz culture.

I am also a jazz vocalist. Check out my artist site at


BA, Mathematics; Film and Communication, McGill University

BFA, Jazz Studies, Concordia University

MSc, Mass Communication, Iowa State University

PhD, Communication (Rhetoric) and Theatre Arts , University of Iowa


COMS 372 – Theories of Public Discourse
COMS 465 – Rhetoric and Communication

COMS 460 – Political Communication

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