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“This amazing rhetoric professor I had, James Como, said, ‘words are concepts that have become portable. . . . As performers, or as writers, we use this endowment of speech and thought with an enormous burden of responsibility.’ Professor Como said that the basis of producing sound rhetoric, whether private, social or public – you know, the kind we hardly hear anymore – is to be a reliable source, to speak the truth, and to love your audience. And something in my mind clicked. That’s the kind of singer I want to be.” – Emily Pulley in “The Americanization of Emily,” Opera News, March 2007.
Widely-traveled as a communication consultant, lecturer, writer and teacher, JAMES COMO has counseled and addressed a broad diversity of people within a wide range of settings. He holds the Ph.D. in Language, Literature and Rhetoric from Columbia University and now is Professor Emeritus of Rhetoric and Public Communication at York College (CUNY) where, upon joining the faculty in 1968, he founded the Speech discipline and thereafter chaired the Department of Performing and Fine Arts for fifteen years.
“I had a visit from . . . a man who should have been baptized ‘The Great Jim Como’ . . . I depended upon [him] to lead me through editorial thickets, and without a visit to New York to talk with him I am not sure I would ever have completed the Introduction to the Diary. . . . As so often, I began discussing the division of the letters with Jim Como, and I began work on Volume I in December of 1996. . . .” – Walter Hooper, “Editing C. S. Lewis,” C. S. Lewis, Views from Wake Forest.
A founding member of the New York C. S. Lewis Society (1969), his Branches to Heaven: The Geniuses of C. S. Lewis is a ground-breaking study of Lewis as a rhetorician and his Remembering C. S. Lewis is a benchmark biographical anthology now in its third edition (and fourth decade). These, along with his many articles on Lewis in such journals as The Wilson Quarterly and The New Criterion and on-air commentary for five biographical documentaries have established Dr. Como as one of the most highly-regarded Lewis scholars in the world.
“Your lectures have given me more cause for reflection than anything I have heard or read in a very long time. And while the most thought provoking material was in the final lecture, the most profound experience for those who were there was the second. In it you gave us Lewis through the lens of your understanding, but more importantly you gave us yourself, shaped and formed by your experience of Lewis, a living example of one for whom Lewis mediates the presence of God in a unique way.” — Dennis Beets, founding member, The Memphis C. S. Lewis Society.
His contributions to rhetorical theory and criticism have been at international conferences and as journalism. As a credentialed foreign journalist he covered the landmark Peruvian elections of 1990 and and has written on Peruvian culture and communication often since then. Most recently he has published essays, stories and poems in a number of different venues, and his latest book is ‘The Tongue is Also a Fire’: essays on conversation, rhetoric and the transmission of culture. . . and on C. S. Lewis.
“As a consultant, Professor Como provides a bridge between our ancient rhetorical past and our technologically-tilted culture which, if crossed, will lead to a more meaningful understanding of the best of our human virtues. His advice was an awakening.” — Randall Walton, Investment Banker
He has been a Chancellor’s Access to Excellence honoree and a Salvatori Fellow with the Heritage Foundation and is a member of the International Spanish Honor Society. At York College his commitment to outstanding teaching has been recognized by students with a number of awards.
“Professor Como: Thank you so very much for your constant words of encouragement. You know, you had a profound effect on me: inviting me to your home, listening to me,guiding me. Your mentoring has been one of the most positive aspects of my upbringing. I owe you more than you know — and I hope that the Good Lord continues to bless you.” — Michael Kissi, former student
(Please visit the Curriculum Vitae tab for more detail.)