In public speaking, it is important to not only understand how to go about creating an effective message as a speaker but also how to analyze the effectiveness of others’ messages as a critical listener. Hopefully by this point in the semester, you’ve obtained a strong understanding of both aspects.
For your final assessment, you may opt to complete a rhetorical critique of one of the following historically momentous speeches, using the Neo-Aristotelian Method discussed in class:
• A. Eleanor Roosevelt—Adopting the Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
• John F. Kennedy—Inaugural Address (1961)
• General Douglas MacArthur—Duty, Honor, Country: Sylvanus Thayer Award Acceptance Address (1962)
• Martin Luther King, Jr.—I’ve Been to the Mountaintop (1968)
• Richard M. Nixon—Resignation Address to the Nation (1974)
• Jimmy Carter—Energy and the National Goals: A Crisis of Confidence (1979)
• Geraldine Ferraro—Vice Presidential Nomination Acceptance Address (1984)
• Ronald Reagan—The Space Shuttle “Challenger” Tragedy Address (1986)
• Nelson Mandela—Speech to the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990)
• Anita Hill—Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee (1991)
• Mary Fisher—A Whisper of AIDS: Republican National Convention Address (1992)
Text and audio files of these speeches can be found at www.americanrhetoric.com. You need to listen to the audio (or view the video, if one is available) in addition to reviewing the manuscript.
Because you are focusing on a historical speech, you will need to conduct research about the context in which it occurred and what happened as a result of the speech. Use at least 8 sources (not including the speech audio, video, or text file). A dictionary or Wikipedia entry will not be accepted as sources, and at least two of these sources must be scholarly. Cite all sources in text (in APA style) and include a Works Cited section at the end of your paper.
Failure to include both in-text references to which details are from which source and/or a Works Cited will result in an automatic 0 on this assignment.
Your typed, double-spaced paper should be 6 to 8 pages in length, not including your Works Cited page.
Write your critique as a formal essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion, following the layout below (see lecture notes on “Rhetorical Criticism” for more information:
1. Step 1: Reconstruction of Context
a. Describe the context/occasion and related expectations
b. Describe the speaker and why he/she is speaking
c. Describe the audience
2. Step 2: Analysis of the Artifact
a. Analyze the Canon of Invention
b. Analyze the Canon of Arrangement
c. Analyze the Canon of Style
d. Analyze the Canon of Delivery
e. Analyze the Canon of Memory
3. Step 3: Assessment of the Impact
a. Did this speech achieve its purpose?
b. Did this speaker maintain credibility?
c. How did the audience react to this speech?
d. What happened (historically) as a result of this speech?
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