This study examines the case of the American philosopher John Dewey as rhetor and public intellectual in China in 1919–1921 to elucidate the lived rhetoric of pragmatism. In China, Dewey gave more than 200 lectures to large academic and general audiences on topics such as education, philosophy, and science. This lecturing activity represents a remarkable and complex rhetorical situation as it involves Dewey addressing an audience not familiar with his ideas and potentially open to persuasion. Using recently discovered lecture notes written by Dewey and translations from the Chinese interpretations of his lectures, I argue that his lectures evinced a pragmatist rhetorical style that attempted to reconstruct dominant habits of thought and communication among his Chinese audiences. In so doing, this study advances our understanding of Dewey as rhetor and the theoretical grounds of the pragmatist rhetoric of experience and synthetic conflict.

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