MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Michael Vicaro, assistant professor of communications at Penn State Greater Allegheny, recently had a chapter published in the text "Rhetorics Haunting the National Mall."
The chapter, titled “Haunting Dreams: Time and Affect in the Neoliberal Commemoration of ‘I Have a Dream,’” provides an insight into Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech. Vicaro argues that in modern society, citizens interpret this speech in a way that diminishes its impact, and distorts its original message.
“I argue that we tend to celebrate King, and this speech in particular, in a way that blunts his politically demanding vision of social justice,” said Vicaro.
Vicaro drew inspiration from King’s later years, finding out that he was a very controversial figure.
“I was shocked to learn that he was considered a controversial, polarizing figure in his time. This was so different from the image I'd always known of King as a kind of saintly figure,” said Vicaro. “I wanted to learn how and why the national perception of King had changed so much in the 50 years since his death — and how more nationalistic and politically conservative forces have worked to appropriate his memory and legacy.”
The publication of his chapter has been a rewarding accomplishment for Vicaro, making it a notable event in his academic career.
“I'm proud of the work and I'm delighted that it has been published in a great volume called 'Rhetorics Haunting the National Mall,' all about the imagery of national memory in the public art around Washington, D.C.,” said Vicaro.
“I'm proud of the work and I'm delighted that it has been published in a great volume called 'Rhetorics Haunting the National Mall,' all about the imagery of national memory in the public art around Washington, D.C."
Vicaro said that as he continues to write, he desires to connect with a broader audience.
“I would like to continue to work on essays about national memory,” Vicaro said. “My goal, though, is to write something on the topic that is a little more accessible to everyday readers and less full of fancy academic jargon.”