Oratory in the Age of Obama

A course in rhetoric for the Honors College of Rutgers Camden

Midterm Review

Midterm Exam Review for Oratory Seminar (March 4, 2010)

This in-class exam will consist of three parts: an ID section, short answer questions, and a longer essay. You will have some choice.

Part One: Identifications. Choose 5 of 8. (I will select eight terms from the list below; you will respond to at least five of them by briefing defining theses terms and placing them in an appropriate context. (35 points)

Cicero            three modes of persuasion            topics/topoi/loci
Demonsthenes        five canons of rhetoric                dramatism (5 elements)
Gorgias        three types (or species) of rhetoric        ratios
Aristotle        craft/techne/ars        appeal            situation
Pericles        charisma        address            audience
Lysias            gratia            public            exigence
Plato            orator/rhetor        kairos/chronos        constraints
Quintilian        stasis/status        fallacies        enthymeme
Kenneth Burke        medium        value            authority
Lloyd Bitzer        evidence        pisteis            intrinsic/extrinsic ethos
handbook        Attic            identification         communication triangle
example        premise        presumption

Part Two: Short Answer. Choose 3 of 5. In this section you will demonstrate the ability to apply a concept to oratorical practice or appreciate the significance of a contribution to rhetorical understanding. A full credit response would be precise and substantive and employ well-chosen examples. (30 points)

Sample questions:

— What proofs based in logos would be applicable to defense in a court of law?

— Explain the significance of the notion of “vir bonum” to Roman oratory.

— Why does Socrates claim that rhetoric (as it was practiced by sophists) is akin to cookery? Why, for him, is this a put-down? What does it say about what Socrates thinks is the proper aim of discourse in public life?

–Discuss appeals to X (e.g., time/place/authority/tradition) as practiced in contemporary public discourse In what ways do various speakers/authors seek to ground arguments in appeal X?

— Discuss the forms and functions of epideictic/forensic/deliberative rhetoric and support your response through several actual and/or hypothetical examples.

Part Three. Extended Essay. Choose 1 of 2.This response should be one to two paragraphs, be well-structured and specific, and reflect your understanding of rhetoric and oratory as social practices and intellectual endeavors. These questions are designed to invite individualized insightful treatment of ideas. (35 pts.)

Sample questions:

— Using at least two examples of speakers/writers we have encountered thus far, discuss the figure of the orator in relation to situations that bring speaker and audience together.

— What is an audience? What moves an audience? There’s no easy or obvious ‘correct’ answer to such open-ended questions. The first highlight one element of situation. The second invites you to consider how an orator imagines and connects with those who hear him/her. Ground your own substantive but incomplete response to this pair of questions by references to President Obama’s 2009 Inaugural address.

— In what ways does rhetoric introduce something magical or foreign into societies? Habinek, you will recall, discusses the potentially disruptive/transformative character of skilled oratory. How can you build on that observation by references to classical and/or modern instances of rhetoric’s power?

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