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Jul 10

Oseid talks 'persuasive writing of past U.S. presidents' with Kansas judiciary

Published on: Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Prof. Julie Oseid spoke at the 2013 Kansas Judicial Conference in Wichita on June 20. Her two-session presentation, "Communicators-Chief," explored the eloquence of two American Presidents – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant.

Oseid noted that both Lincoln and Grant started with some natural writing talent, but both were catapulted to true eloquence through specific writing qualities. Lincoln, a practicing lawyer, used brevity to persuade. Grant, a successful general, used clarity to lead and to record history. More than 130 judges, magistrate judges, and court staff attended the presentation. Oseid’s presentation was enhanced by two Kansas voices - Chief Justice Lawton Nuss read Lincoln’s words and Judge Richard Walker read Grant’s words.

Oseid said she thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and interaction with those in attendance.

“The Kansas judiciary is smart, engaging, and welcoming – I could not imagine a better audience,” she said, noting that several judges said her program was fun, interesting, informative, and “one of the best programs” presented at a judicial conference.

During the past five years, Professor Oseid has been studying the persuasive writings of American presidents.  She begins by identifying the qualities of a particular president’s writing.  She then searches for influences that fostered that quality. She also studies the president’s writing habits, and considers how modern-day lawyers can adopt those same habits to increase their persuasiveness.

Her series of five articles has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, Legal Communication & Rhetoric:  J. ALWD. She has focused on the following presidents:  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. The titles of her articles include:  “The Power of Brevity:  Adopt Abraham Lincoln’s Habits,”  “The Power of Metaphor:  Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Wall of Separation between Church & State,’” “The Power of Rigor:  James Madison as a Persuasive Writer” (co-authored with Thomas Berg and Joseph Orrino), “The Power of Clarity:  Ulysses S. Grant as a Model of Writing ‘So That There Could Be No Mistaking It,’” and  “The Power of Zeal:  Teddy Roosevelt’s Life and Writing” (to be published in Fall 2013).

Oseid has made several national presentations based on the articles, including presentations at both regional and national Legal Writing Institute (LWI) conferences, national and international conferences focused on applied storytelling, and at a judicial conference.

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