Numbers play a fundamental role in how we learn about and remember wars. Numbers allow wars to be remembered in a simple format (e.g., 2.5 million men enlisted in the Civil War, 750,000 died) but they can also abstract out the negative elements of war (e.g, civilian deaths). The rhetoricity of numbers has been an underexamined area of public discourse, especially in wartime. My analysis of the rhetoricity of numbers will show how citizens can engage in more productive conversations about war, and how citizens can better understand how numbers operate in political discussions.
Akin to my interest in war rhetoric, I also focus on the different modalities of citizenship. I believe it is important to broaden our conception of citizenship beyond simple efforts of voting and contacting members of government, in part to widen public agendas and invite greater participation. To do so, we must understand how different groups attempt to confront troubling concepts and taken-for-granted notions of propriety.
“Making Drone Victims Count: The Bureau for Investigative Journalism’s Counting Toward a Deliberative End,” Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, May 2016.
“Carl Sandburg’s “War Poems (1914-1915)”: Irony and Numbers, Judgment and Action,” Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, May 2016.
“Resolved: That U.S.-Based Deliberation over Drone Policy is Overly Focused on the Targeting of U.S. Citizens,” Debate Panel, Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, May 2016.
“Numerical Rhetorics in the Bush and Obama Administrations’ ‘War on Terror,’” National Communication Association, Chicago, November 2014.
"What’s in a Number, or the Rhetorical Markers of Numerical Education in Democracy?" Rhetoric Society of America, San Antonio, May 2014.
“The Biopolitical Work of the Civil War’s Fallen Soldiers,” National Communication Association, Washington, D.C., November 2013.
“The Rhetorical Nature of Numbers in War,” National Communication Association, War Rhetoric Pre-Conference, Washington, D.C., November 2013.
“Exceptional Proficiency, or the Perfecting of Military Strikes through Drones,” National Communication Association, Washington, D.C., November 2013.
“Rhetoric is the art, the fine and useful art, of making things matter”
Areas of Inquiry
Frank J. Stec. “Bringing Attention to the Human Costs of War: Democratic Deliberation and Anti-War Numbers,” Southern Communication Journal, 81, no. 5: 271–288.
Frank J. Stec. “On the Triumph of Vague Numbers in Presidential War Rhetoric,” under review, Western Journal of Communication, September 2016.