Oratory in the Age of Obama

A course in rhetoric for the Honors College of Rutgers Camden

Final Exam (P)Review

Honors Seminar — Oratory in the Age of Obama            Fall 2010
Professor William FitzGerald

Final Exam Preview — Friday, May 7, 2010, 2 – 5 pm

Part I. Terms to know (Choose 6 of 9 to be selected from this list, 30 minutes, 30 points)

Instructions. In two to three sentences, identify terms you select with brief explanation of their meaning and use in relation to rhetoric/oratory and texts we’ve read.

judgment         skepticism        tropes            anaphora
metonymy        sovereign        demagogy        prudence
Leviathan        identification        reduction        Rawls
faction            deliberation        asyndeton        isocolon
scapegoat        situation        Madison        reason

Advice: locate terms in the book and work up selected responses

Part II. Questions (Choose 4 of 7 to be selected from this list, 1 hour, 40 points)

Instructions. In one to two paragraphs, respond to the prompts appearing in this section along lines suggested by the categories below

— on Nietzche and metaphor (see Habinek, ch. 5)
— on representation (as synecdoche, as political model, esp. Hobbes)
— on Cicero and stoicism
— on Aristotle and situated judgment
— on Lincoln’s “Second Inaugural” and appeals
— on Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech and race
— on Rousseau and citizenship
— on figuration, including tropes
— on Kenneth Burke and Hitler’s ‘Battle’

Advice: identify several talking points and quotes within each text (chapter, speech or article) and imagine laying out those elements in

Part III. Take-home portion. Choose 1 of 2 in up to two typed or three handwritten pages + drafting notes — time limit = 1 hour, 30 points)

Instructions. You should generate notes in support of a response; when you feel prepared, begin your response in the proposed time frame. Submit response with exam.

–It’s interesting, to me at least, that our political (e.g., demos, republic, tyranny) and rhetorical (e.g., persuasion, epideictic, topoi, tropes) vocabularies are derived from social situations quite different from ours. Looking back on this course, what elements of oratory carry over, credibly, from political and social contexts quite different from ours, e.g., as in ancient Rome or classical era Greece; what one or two elements of oratory in the present American scene stand in marked contrast to oratory’s origin? Be specific and focused in your response in the use of material from texts and history (e.g, your readings of passages from Habinek or Garsten, your references to America in relation to Rome).

–Do you suppose that many of the rhetorical appeals we have studied in this course are particularly modern, or do they enjoy broader cultural significance? In this response, you are invited to briefly discuss appeals across two or three speeches/texts we encountered this semester, in books or links, by addressing their persuasive character through the lens offered by Killingsworth in his use of the term appeal. In essence, you are invited here to explore the contrast between the concept of proof in the classical era (in the form of three basic rhetorical appeals) and a more diversified set (10 or more) of appeals.


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