The Ferguson Center
for Public Speaking
Claire E. Deal
Associate Professor of Rhetoric
Morton Hall, 114
Rhetoric 310: Advanced Public Speaking
Honor, Persuasion, and Civil Discourse: The Good Man and Good Citizen in the 21st Century
Dr. Claire Deal
Office: Morton 114, extension 6988
Course Description and Goals
This course, which builds on the foundations students acquire in Rhetoric 210, will develop the advanced student's ability to create and support sound propositions of fact, value, and policy. Through a review of the five classical canons of oratory (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery) and an examination of representative classical and contemporary speeches, students will learn to support and refute claims; to analyze the rhetorical situation and tailor their messages accordingly; to employ and evaluate scholarly evidence; to recognize and avoid fallacies in reasoning; to use appropriate, effective, coherent language; and to deliver arguments with conviction and eloquence. The presentation of an argument for a professional audience is an integral component of the course.
This course directly addresses an important objective of Hampden-Sydney College: to develop clear thinking and expression. In much the same way that Rhetoric 102 builds on the basic writing skills students learn in Rhetoric 101, this advanced speaking course builds on the basic public speaking skills students acquire in Rhetoric 210. The ability to craft a well-researched and well-reasoned argument, present it with conviction and an awareness of the rhetorical situation, and engage in lively debate are the hallmarks of a well-rounded liberal arts education. This course provides the opportunity for competent public speakers to become outstanding public speakers.
Students in this semester's advanced public speaking seminar will explore some big ideas: honor, persuasion, and civil discourse. Interwoven with these concepts will be another big idea, the idea of "the good man and the good citizen" (or, in the case of your professor and hundreds of other people in our HSC community, "The good woman and the good citizen"). There will be no hard and fast answers, no formulas to memorize, no checklists of rules. Instead, the ideas we discuss will likely flow back and forth, pushing and pulling, as we seek to discover the rhetorician within!
We'll begin at the beginning, with Aristotle and his thoughts on rhetoric, particularly his concept of ethos. Some questions to consider:
- What is rhetoric?
- And what behaviors/choices constitute the most effective means of persuasion for any given circumstance?
- How do contemporary rhetoricians, some famous, some not so famous, employ the ancient rhetorical concepts?
- What does it mean to be an ethical speaker? Is this the same as being an honorable speaker?
- How does a speaker earn the respect of the audience?
- How does a speaker demonstrate honorable character?
We'll move beyond ourselves:
- What responsibility does a speaker have to others? To honor those in our community?
- How do we explain dishonorable behavior by those whom we revere? Ex: sports heroes, politicians, religious figures, etc.
- What is our responsibility when we see someone acting with dishonor?
- What is our responsibility when we see a person or a group of people being treated with disrespect? To whom can we look for good models of speaking out to right injustice?
- What must we do if we exist in multiple communities, each with its own code or system of honor, and we note contradictions within those communities' codes?
- What issues, challenges, or concerns are of great importance to me, and what is my obligation to address them?
We'll move into the realm of public discourse:
- How can I most effectively structure my argument to influence others?
- How, in my public discourse, do I honor those with whom I disagree?
- What codes, if any, guide my discourse as a good person and good citizen?
- Are there models of civil discourse in the media today?
- What is my obligation when I hear words meant to incite hatred or violence?
- What, if any, are the limits of free speech? As an ethical speaker, do I have self-imposed boundaries for my own speech? How do I determine these boundaries, if so?
Heinrichs, Jay. Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us about the Art of Persuasion. NY: Three Rivers Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-307-34144-0
I will assign additional texts, including articles, editorials, speech transcriptions, videos, etc. throughout the course. You MUST have a reliable email account and check it EVERY DAY for assignment updates. Many of the additional readings and speeches will be online, and I will email the links to you.
I may require you to consult a good introductory public speaking text if your skills are rusty and you need a review of the five classical canons and their application in speech preparation.
(20%) Participation and homework
To include quizzes or templates for Thank You for Arguing, demonstration of prior preparation for and engagement in class discussion, demonstration of good listening behaviors and civil discourse in the classroom
(80%) Oral presentations, as outlined below
Definition (10%): What is honor and what is its relevance to the public speaker?In this presentation you will draw on assigned readings, independent research, class discussions, and your own experiences to craft an extended definition and defense of "honor." Using good reasons and sound logic, convince your audience that your definition is appropriate and useful.
Analysis (20%): Honor, character, and civil discourse
In this presentation you will find examples of speakers/speeches/interviews where people who oppose one another's views present their views with civility or, conversely, with incivility. In this presentation you will describe the codes of honor specific to each of the parties represented in your sample. You'll analyze the discourse according to the persuasive techniques we've studied in class. If you've chosen an example of incivility, you'll explain how you think the speakers who've acted with incivility could have done things differently. If you chose an example of civil discourse, you will explain what made it so. Your analytical tools will come from our class discussions and readings.
Application of Rhetorical Strategies (10%): Room for Debate
In this presentation you will, with a partner, conduct an informal discussion about an issue, concern, or challenge that is important to you both, but one on which you have differing viewpoints. Using the techniques presented in Thank You for Arguing, you will prepare your argument in advance and then, during class time, engage with your partner in an impromptu discussion of the topic.
Synthesis/ Evaluation (20%):"This I Believe" public lecture.
In this presentation, you will join with 2 or 3 colleagues and create a unified presentation synthesizing the work you've done on our theme of "honor, persuasion, and civil discourse.
Paired presentation (20%): Thank You for Arguing
Overview/discussion with a colleague of assigned chapters in Thank You for Arguing
90-93(A-) 94-97(A) 98-100 (A+)
80-83(B-) 84-87 (B) 88-89(B+)
70-73(C-) 74-77(C) 78-79(C+), etc.