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Centre for the Study of Communication and culture


Communication Research Trends usually charts current communication research, introducing its readers to recent developments across the range of inquiry into communication. This issue, however, takes a different tack, looking back on the writings of Walter J. Ong, S.J., who died at the age of 90 in August 2003. Ong spent his scholarly career at Saint Louis University, where he served as University Professor of Humanities, the William E. Haren Professor of English, and Professor of Humanities in Psychiatry at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. In a career that spanned 60 years, Ong published 16 books, 245 articles, and 108 reviews. In addition, he edited a number of works and gave interviews that further explored his wide-ranging interests. Readers interested in a full bibliography of Ong’s works should refer to the web site prepared by Professor Betty Youngkin at the University of Dayton, at

From the perspective of an interest in connections among many areas of human knowledge over such a long career, he explored a whole gamut of activities by careful observations of the threads that run through western culture and by insightful analysis of what he observed. Communication forms one of those many threads in the West—perhaps the dominant one—and so it occupies a similar place in Ong’s work. The tapestry Ong weaves has, bit by bit, influenced thinking about communication as well as research. And so, Communication Research Trends looks back on the writings of Walter Ong, S.J.


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