Rhetoric competition to compare art forms


Linda Smith, News Editor

Student competitors in the upcoming Ruskin Rhetoric Competition will focus their rhetorical skills on the equality – or inequality – among various art forms as they attempt to answer this year’s question: “Can cinema and/or television be considered art on the same level as more traditional media (e.g. painting, music, theater, etc.)?”
“For this topic, we’re really interested in how UD students approach one of the primary expressions of contemporary culture: cinema,” SPUD Academics Director Steven McDowell said. “Films are one of the most discussed topics among young people, and, particularly around the time of the Academy Awards, it’s common to draw attention to the artistic value of film in general. But are films artistic on the same level as, say, the sculptures of Bernini or the paintings of Van Gogh (artistic taste notwithstanding)?”
The competitors for this year’s event are freshman Adam Davis, junior Lucas Lopes, and seniors Anna Kaladish and Michael Walker.
Kaladish decided to participate to conclude her University of Dallas career.
“Not having much experience with public speaking, I thought it would prove to be interesting,” Kaladish said. “Additionally, the opportunity to apply what I have learned during my undergraduate education seemed like a good and worthy exercise. Plus, YOHOS [You Only Have One Semester].”
The three faculty judges, representing three different perspectives from which to view the question, are English professor Dr. Andrew Moran, politics professor Dr. Richard Dougherty and history professor Dr. Thomas Jodziewicz. “The issue of art, what it is, how accessible it ought to be for everyone, or should it be only for the truly appreciative and initiated, i.e., the self-conscious superiors! …This is interesting,” Jodziewicz said.
“The American project or culture emphasizes democratization or equality, so can we still suggest some ‘art’ is higher than other ‘art’? Democracy can perhaps suggest that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ as we wend our weary way in the early 21st century, but is this really true? Is there a ‘true’ against which, aside for technical prowess, art might yet be measured? Maybe these sorts of issues will be raised in the Ruskin debates. I hope so.”
Students have their own ways to approach the question, including first establishing what art is. Kaladish will then focus on “how people experience art,” then “make bold claims about the nature of reality.” Lopes will look at what it means for something to “be considered a ‘high form of art,’” then “criticize different opinions of what people think art should be like.”
“The Ruskin Competition is both a fun competition involving UD students and faculty, and an opportunity for UD students to express their take on a controversial topic in oratorical form,” McDowell said. “This event involves students – our peers, if you will – speaking on an intellectually demanding topic. That, I think, is something worth seeing.”
The competition is scheduled March 5 at 7 p.m. in Lynch Auditorium.


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