Bates professor wins award

Robert J. Branham, professor of rhetoric and director of debate at Bates College, has received the latest American Forensic Association (AFA) Daniel Rohrer Award for Stanton’s Elm: An Illustrated History of Debating at Bates College, published in 1996.

Awarded annually, the prize recognizes outstanding scholarship in argumentation theory, criticism, history or practice. The AFA is an organization of 600 argumentation scholars from seven countries.

Branham’s prize-wining work was published in commemoration of the centennial celebration of the Bates College intercollegiate debate program. “The history is a fine and unique example of scholarship,” said Kathryn M. Olson, chair of the AFA research committee.

Just two years ago, Branham garnered the AFA research award for his 1994 article, “Debate and Dissent in Late Tokugawa and Meiji Japan,” which appeared in the journal Argumentation and Advocacy.

In 1996, Branham was named the Eastern States Representative to the Committee for International Discussion and Debate (CIDD) by the Speech Communication Association, a 5,000-member international organization of communication scholars. He was also named coach of the United States national debating team for its tour of Great Britain from January to March 1997.

Branham heads an intercollegiate debate program at Bates that is recognized as one of the best in the United States. He also teaches a course on documentary filmmaking that has produced such notable efforts as Roughing the Uppers: The Great Shoe Strike of 1937 and The Phantom Punch, about the heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in 1965.

The author of a number of scholarly articles and editor of several handbooks and tutoring aids for debaters, he graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College and earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of North Carolina and the University of Massachusetts respectively. He joined the Bates faculty in 1974.

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