Oratory in the Age of Obama

A course in rhetoric for the Honors College of Rutgers Camden

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Readings and Activities for Tuesday, April 27 & Thursday, April 29

Posted by William FitzGerald on April 27, 2010


We will pay a brief visit on 4.27 to the last chapter of Killingsworth.


Presentations (10 minutes each) from five/six  students and discussion of final papers, exams.

NOTE: I will be meeting with students individually through Thursday of this week to discuss papers, due in final form by Thursday, May 6, one hardcopy AND electronic deposit in drop box on sakai.  The exam preview, including take-home questions, will be posted here by Thursday, 4/29.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings and Activities for Tuesday, April 20

Posted by William FitzGerald on April 17, 2010


For Tuesday’s class, we are reading the challenging but amazing essay, “The Rhetoric of Hitler’s Battle” by the social and literary critic Kenneth Burke. You can find the essay here:


You can find it on your own through Googlebooks. It appears in the book, The Philosophy of Literary Form.

I am asking you to respond to this reading in advance of class by posting a brief quote from the text and offering a commentary.

Finally, I place below the two texts I profiled last week for their figurative elements but then–D’oh!–neglected to give to you when I asked you to attempt an imitation. I’ll put them on the course blog as well, but here they are:

What figurative elements, nameable or otherwise, are operating in these two instances of prose?

It is virtue, yea virtue, gentlemen, that maketh gentlemen; that maketh the poor rich, the base-born
noble, the subject a sovereign, the deformed beautiful, the sick whole, the weak strong, the most
miserable most happy. There are two principal and peculiar gifts in the nature of man, knowledge and
reason; the one commandeth, and the other obeyeth: these things neither the whirling wheel of
fortune can change, neither the deceitful cavillings of worldlings separate, neither sickness abate,
neither age abolish.
— Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit, John Lyly (1579)

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching
network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and
irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare
the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is
too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use
energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less
profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is
inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They
will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.
— 2009 Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Readings and Activities for Thursday, April 15

Posted by William FitzGerald on April 15, 2010


Killingsworth, Chapter Nine

Lincoln, “Second Inaugural” (background) (analysis)


Topics for final paper due

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings for Tuesday, April 13

Posted by William FitzGerald on April 13, 2010


Garsten, Chapter Five–on Cicero

Keith & Lundberg, Chapter Seven, on Style


Continue to consider a viable, interesting paper topic that applies rhetorical principles, ancient or modern, to contemporary American politics and society. Paper topics (like taxes) due Thursday, April 15

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings and Activities for Thursday, April 8

Posted by William FitzGerald on April 7, 2010


Killingsworth, Chapter Eight, “Appeals to Race”

Obama, Philadelphia ‘Race” Speech, “A More Perfect Union” (context and commentary) (more commentary)


Second Paper due: Drop box in sakai

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings and Activities for Thursday, April 1

Posted by William FitzGerald on March 29, 2010


Killingsworth, Chapter 6

Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I A Woman?

Barbara Jordan, 1976 Democratic National Convention “Keynote Address

Phyllis Schlafly, anti-feminist crusader (2)


Begin familiarizing yourself with techniques of sound and sense known as rhetorical figures, a partial list of which is available at American Rhetoric’s Devices in Sound page.  Some of these are familiar from poetry (e.g, alliteration, simile); the rest have strange names but will be seen as quite commonly employed devices.

From this point on, we will introduce several with each class period, and you can begin to identify them in the texts you encounter. For today’s class (4/1), we will meet four such figurative devices.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings and Activities for Tuesday, March 30

Posted by William FitzGerald on March 29, 2010


Garsten, Saving Persuasion, Chapter 3 (on Kant): continue reading Bryan Garsten’s


Begin paper #2 (see assignment page)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings and Activities for Thursday, February 25

Posted by William FitzGerald on February 23, 2010


Habinek, Chapter Four, “Rhetoric as Acculturation”

Keith & Lundberg, Chapter Four


Response to reading (blogpost): As a comment to this entry, offer a brief comparative reflection on your own acculturation into rhetoric as a spoken and/or written art in light of the portrait painted by Habinek of educational practices in rhetoric in the classical era. That is, over several sentences, you should identify some practice or theme treated by Habinek and connect it by way of similarity or difference to something in your own education into language proficiency, citizenship, identity, etc.

First paper due: after revising your paper (in light of class conversation and the checklist I have provided), proofreading it aloud, and typing a short statement indicating the degree to which the work presented is your own, deposit the paper into the drop box of sakai. Be sure the paper includes your name, the date, an appropriate title and page numbers. Be sure to provide an electronic link to any texts you quote, summarize, paraphrase. Finally, be sure that the paper is in one of the following forms: .doc., .docx, .rtf or .pdf.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Readings and Activities for Tuesday, February 23

Posted by William FitzGerald on February 23, 2010


Killingsworth, Chapter Five, “Appeals to Places”

Obama, Presidential Inaugural Address (2009)

Analysis and response: The English Blog, Professionally SpeakingSix Minutes


Due: Draft of first paper (in-class, hardcopy)

Key Words, Concepts: Dramatism (agent =who, act = what, when & where = scene, how = agency, purpose = why); Ratios (e.g., agent/purpose = idealism). local/global, inhabitation/reinhabitation (rehabilitation), spatially oriented vs. temporally oriented

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Readings and Activities for Thursday, February 18

Posted by William FitzGerald on February 16, 2010


Habinek, Chapter Three

Lincoln, “Gettysburg Address

Resources: LOC, the Powerpoint Presentation


Due: choice of speech text for paper due next week

Response to Habinek: as a comment to this blog entry post a brief response of commentary or inquiry to a portion of Habinek, Chapter Three. You might engage even a single paragraph that raise a point of interest or speculation.

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »