Mark Thompson, outgoing director general of the BBC, is to take up position as a Humanitas Visiting Professor at the University later this year.

On Friday 14th September the University announced that Thompson (Merton, 1976) will take up its first Professorship in Rhetoric and the Art of Public Persuasion, a position created in honour of Philip Gould. Thompson will assume his new role in early November 2012, before he takes up his future position as Chief Executive of the New York Times.

Thompson will deliver a series of lectures in the week beginning 5th November as part of the role. Taking place at St Peter’s College, the lectures will analyse the language of political debate in the UK and the USA.

They will, among other issues, consider healthcare and language, science and argument, and the war on morality. The series, entitled The Cloud of Unknowing, will culminate in a symposium -- featuring Andrew Marr, David Willetts, Polly Toynbee and Gus O’Donnell -- which will discuss how language shapes public debate.

Thompson, who read English at Merton College, has remarked to the University that “as an Oxford humanities graduate, it means a great deal to... be asked to become the university's first visiting professor of rhetoric and public persuasion." He went on to explain that the “lectures spring from an abiding interest in language and argument”.

Alumni can register for a place at one of the lectures on the Humanitas website.