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Professor Tom Trenchard Earns Ph.D.

Posted: Jun 02 2014

Contact: Mark DiPietro 802.387.1632 Email Mark DiPietro

Dissertation explores “The Wilds of Conversation”

Earlier this month, Tom Trenchard, Landmark College Communications professor, was awarded a Ph.D. in Media and Communications from the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Students at the European Graduate School study directly with such renowned continental philosophers as Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Zizek. Trenchard's dissertation was titled "The Wilds of Conversation: Traversing the Dialogical Terrain of Rhetorical Territory." 

Trenchard explained that his dissertation "deals with the philosophy of communication and the intersection of dialogue and rhetoric. I am interested in how people engage with each other as they try to discuss controversial issues. But the heart of my dissertation really began with my observation of the figurative, rather than literal, use of the word terrain. For example, if we disagree over an issue, we might say we are in 'contested terrain.' Since this usage is left undefined, I set out to explore its meaning and what it might suggest about how we might engage in a different kind of dialogue."

In his dissertation, Trenchard writes:

“The wilds of conversation exist largely at the edges of our talk, where we are unsure of ourselves, where the talk can become messy, rough, tangled, even dangerous….We tend to keep away from such places and steer ourselves to safer ground. And yet when we are in these places, we sometimes sense an excitement, as if we could discover something new through all the haze and difficulties we associate with the wild. These are the very places in which dialogue thrives.”

In addition to his Ph.D., Trenchard holds an M.S. in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies from Woodbury College.