Oratory in the Age of Obama

A course in rhetoric for the Honors College of Rutgers Camden

Readings and Activities for Tuesday, January 26

Posted by William FitzGerald on January 22, 2010

Today we crack open the book on ancient (classical) rhetoric to learn about the culture in which the principles of oratory that have framed our governmental system were first conceived and put into practice, where the symbols and strategies of oratorical performance were first employed.


Habinek, Thomas. Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory. Preface, Chronological Chart and Ch. 1.

Key points (from “Preface”):

Oratory: formal public speechmaking; characteristic political act of ancient city-states and of later political entities that draw inspiration from them.

Rhetoric: according to Aristotle, the study of the available means of persuasion in response to prevalence of oratory; the study of successful oratory.

Rhetoric modes of discourse reflect contingency, emotion, and personal allegiances

Rhetoric = rhetorical analysis and training together with oratorical performance.

Rhetoric is always social, involves art, argument, conviction, power, play, pleasure, tolerance, exchange


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