Oratory in the Age of Obama

A course in rhetoric for the Honors College of Rutgers Camden

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Readings and Activities for Tuesday, February 2

Posted by William FitzGerald on January 29, 2010



Keith and Lundberg, Essential Guide to Rhetoric, Chapters 1 and 2

King, Dr. Martin Luther Jr. “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”  (April 1963) (historical context)

First read the original text and note the appeals to authority and evidence. Then read the text a second time using the color-coded analysis of the text’s “means of proof” in the appeals to ethos, pathos and logos. As you do so, please remember that these appeals cannot be strictly pinned down to level of individual sentences. This analysis is more an illustration of the concepts of means of proof.

Additional Readings:

Watch (or read the transcript of) President Obama in a Q&A with the Republican opposition–an unprecedented and compelling moment of deliberative oratory.

If you’d like to see a superb example of close reading a speech, here is James Fallows’ annotation of SOTU 2010.

Here is Andrew Sullivan worrying that American may have already moved beyond civic republicanism toward corporate-

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