Thursday November 9


Alcuin Study Center

An Evening With BSU Professor Emeritus Paul Ranieri

Liberal Education needs to be re-energized.  As citizens and as educators, we need new ways to think about social problems and new ways to think about how to prepare students to grapple with those problems.  The first half of my presentation argues that to go forward, we have to go back—to Isocrates, a contemporary of Plato, whose ideas and practices would dominate ancient rhetoric and education from the late 5th century B.C. to the early Renaissance.  Yet, we cannot simply go back in time; Isocrates’ views and practices must be adapted to our times using ideas drawn from current studies in cognition, developmental psychology, and pedagogy suited for fostering the learning of young adults.

I will sketch out what an Isocratean foundation for liberal education—one based on rhetoric— would look like, and then briefly describe how that would re-interpret the humanities even as it more clearly defines how best young adults learn and what a successful course of study in higher education might look like.

The rest of my presentation will be more speculative in nature based on the fact that if the rhetorical tradition of Isocrates dominated ancient education and thought until the early Renaissance, how might we refresh how we see the environment in which early Christianity was nourished, a time in which the New Testament was written and early Christian practices were defined.  What happens when we shake off our cultural Platonic hangover and see this time period with more rhetorical, Isocratean eyes, collectively exploring such critical rhetorical concepts as Logos (thought / word), Pistis (persuasion/faith), and Kairos (the timely)?

About Our Speaker

A Midwesterner by birth and choice, Ranieri received his BA (1975) from Xavier University in Cincinnati, a Master’s of Arts in Teaching (1976) from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a doctorate in English Education (1983) from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2020 he completed 42 years teaching, the last 37 at Ball State.  Over those years he valued most teaching freshman writing, honors humanities, and graduate courses in rhetorical history and writing theory—teaching all together 39 different courses over those 37 years.

He has served the Department of English as Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of the Writing Program, Assistant Chairperson, and as Chairperson.  He has served as Interim Associate Dean of Sciences and Humanities, Director of Freshman Connections, Director of the Indiana Writing Project, President of the Indiana Teachers of Writing, and Executive Director of the Association for General & Liberal Studies.

Over three decades he participated in 19 study abroad programs, including two semester-length programs at Westminster College (Oxford) and the London Centre, and the last seven summer programs with KIIS-Greece.  He has been named a University Teaching Professor, been recognized for Outstanding Service as a Doctoral Committee Chair, and received the Lawhead Teaching Award for General Studies, the C. Warren Vander Hill Award for Distinguished Teaching in Honors Education, and the university’s Outstanding Faculty Service Award.

Describing himself as a generalist, his scholarship has focused on liberal education, writing pedagogy, cognitive development, classical rhetoric, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  The recipient of 11 external grants, he has delivered more than 50 state, national, and international presentations, and published six journal articles, two book chapters, and two multimedia textbooks.  In his retirement he has been able to work on three projects unhindered by meetings and paper grading: a collection of personal essays about learning, a website on liberal education, and a book reimagining liberal education for the American university.    

Will you be attending Refreshing Our Views of Liberation Education?(required)