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Afrocentric Idea Revised
Molefi Asante
Temple University Press, 1998
This new edition of The Afrocentric Idea boldly confronts the contemporary challenges that have been launched against Molefi Kete Asante's philosophical, social, and cultural theory. By rendering  a critique of some post-modern positions as well as the old structured Eurocentric orientations discussed in the first edition, this new edition contains lively engagements with views expressed by Mary Lefkowitz, Paul Gilroy, and Cornel West. Expanding on his core ideas, Asante has cast The Afrocentric Idea in the tradition of provocative critiques of the established social order. This is a fresh and dynamic location of culture within the context of  social change.
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Andrew Jackson
A Rhetorical Portrayal of Presidential Leadership
Amos Kiewe
University of Tennessee Press, 2018

Andrew Jackson’s presidency and legacy have been the subject of much study. His career and life, particularly his actions as America’s seventh president, still reverberate in our culture today. Yet Amos Kiewe mounts a groundbreaking intervention into Jackson studies by focusing his critical lens on a little-studied aspect of the populist leader’s 1830–31 campaign and subsequent presidency: his creative use of the press. Jackson was a force for reinvention, cannily directing his speeches—like no previous candidate—to the public at large and garnering unprecedented newspaper coverage throughout his campaign and time in office. By focusing on public addresses, Kiewe is able to trace Jackson’s rhetorical political maneuvering through his early campaign and the major trials of his presidency.

With nuance and deep examination of Jackson’s rhetoric, Kiewe dispels the myth that Jackson was not an articulate writer, thereby clarifying historical perceptions of his presidency and relationship to the public at large. Tracing Jackson’s initial plans for the presidency through his campaign and early time in office, Kiewe sheds light on Jackson’s ambitions, viewpoints, and strategies and deepens the scholarship on the Tennessee soldier and statesman.

Andrew Jackson: A Rhetorical Portrayal of Presidential Leadership offers significant insight into one of America’s most famous—and infamous—presidents, and adds new and critical information to the study of rhetoric and politics in the United States.

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Angelina Grimke
Rhetoric, Identity, and the Radical Imagination
Stephen H. Browne
Michigan State University Press, 1999

Abolitionist, women's rights activist, and social reformer, Angelina Grimké (1805-79) was among the first women in American history to seize the public stage in pursuit of radical social reform. "I will lift up my voice like a trumpet," she proclaimed, "and show this people their transgressions." And when she did lift her voice in public, on behalf of the public, she found that, in creating herself, she might transform the world. In the process, Grimké crossed the wires of race, gender, and power, and produced explosions that lit up the world of antebellum reform. Among the most remarkable features of Angelina Grimké's rhetorical career was her ability to stage public contests for the soul of America—bringing opposing ideas together to give them voice, depth, and range to create new and more compelling visions of social change. 
     Angelina Grimké: Rhetoric, Identity, and the Radical Imagination is the first full-length study to explore the rhetorical legacy of this most unusual advocate for human rights. Stephen Browne examines her epistolary and oratorical art and argues that rhetoric gave Grimké a means to fashion not only her message but her very identity as a moral force.

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Antiphon the Athenian
Oratory, Law, and Justice in the Age of the Sophists
By Michael Gagarin
University of Texas Press, 2002

Winner, Friends of the Dallas Public Library Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, 2003

Antiphon was a fifth-century Athenian intellectual (ca. 480-411 BCE) who created the profession of speechwriting while serving as an influential and highly sought-out adviser to litigants in the Athenian courts. Three of his speeches are preserved, together with three sets of Tetralogies (four hypothetical paired speeches), whose authenticity is sometimes doubted. Fragments also survive of intellectual treatises on subjects including justice, law, and nature (physis), which are often attributed to a separate Antiphon the Sophist. Were these two Antiphons really one and the same individual, endowed with a wide-ranging mind ready to tackle most of the diverse intellectual interests of his day?

Through an analysis of all these writings, this book convincingly argues that they were composed by a single individual, Antiphon the Athenian. Michael Gagarin sets close readings of individual works within a wider discussion of the fifth-century Athenian intellectual climate and the philosophical ferment known as the sophistic movement. This enables him to demonstrate the overall coherence of Antiphon's interests and writings and to show how he was a pivotal figure between the sophists and the Attic orators of the fourth century. In addition, Gagarin's argument allows us to reassess the work of the sophists as a whole, so that they can now be seen as primarily interested in logos (speech, argument) and as precursors of fourth-century rhetoric, rather than in their usual role as foils for Plato.

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Arguments in Rhetoric Against Quintilian
Translation and Text of Peter Ramus's Rhetoricae Distinctiones in Quintilianum
Peter Ramus, Translated by Carole Newlands, Edited by James J. Murphy,
Southern Illinois University Press, 2010

First published in 1986, this book offers the Latin text and English translation of a pivotal work by one of the most influential and controversial writers of early modern times. Pierre de la Ramée, better known as Peter Ramus, was a college instructor in Paris who published a number of books attacking and attempting to refute foundational texts in philosophy and rhetoric. He began in the early 1540s with books on Aristotle—which were later banned and burned—and Cicero, and later, in 1549, he published Rhetoricae Distinctiones in Quintilianum.  The purpose of Ramus’s book is announced in the opening paragraph of its dedication to Charles of Lorraine: “I have a single argument, a single subject matter, that the arts of dialectic and rhetoric have been confused by Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. I have previ­ously argued against Aristotle and Cicero. What objection then is there against calling Quintilian to the same account?”

            Carole Newlands’s excellent translation—the first in modern English—remains the standard English version. This volume also provides the original Latin text for comparative purposes. In addition, James J. Murphy’s insightful introduction places the text in historical perspective by discussing Ramus’s life and career, the development of his ideas, and the milieu in which his writings were produced. This edition includes an updated bibliography of works concerning Ramus, rhetoric, and related topics.

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Arming America through the Centuries
War, Business, and Building a National Security State
Benjamin Franklin Cooling
University of Tennessee Press, 2023

While many associate the concept commonly referred to as the “military-industrial complex” with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address, the roots of it existed two hundred years earlier. This concept, as Benjamin Franklin Cooling writes, was “part of historical lore” as a burgeoning American nation discovered the inextricable relationship between arms and the State. In Arming America through the Centuries, Cooling examines the origins and development of the military-industrial complex (MIC) over the course of American history. He argues that the evolution of America’s military-industrial-business-political experience is the basis for a contemporary American Sparta. Cooling explores the influence of industry on security, the increasing prevalence of outsourcing, ever-present economic and political influence, and the evolving nature of modern warfare. He connects the budding military-industrial relations of the colonial era and Industrial Revolution to their formal interdependence during the Cold War down to the present-day resurrection of Great Power competition. Across eight chronological chapters, Cooling weaves together threads of industry, finance, privatization, appropriations, and technology to create a rich historical tapestry of US national defense in one comprehensive volume.

Integrating information from both recent works as well as canonical, older sources, Cooling’s ambitious single-volume synthesis is a uniquely accessible and illuminating survey not only for scholars and policymakers but for students and general readers as well.

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Bill Clinton on Stump, State, and Stage
The Rhetorical Road to the White House
Stephen A. Smith
University of Arkansas Press, 1994
These lively and penetrating essays by outstanding scholars of political communication examine President Clinton’s rhetorical work before he took the oath of office, presenting a unique perspective on the words and texts that brought him to the presidency and the dynamics of political media throughout the campaign. In these original, valuable, and deeply insightful interpretations, the success of Clinton as a public persuader and compelling orator is analyzed, as is the whole process of political communication in America at the end of the twentieth century.
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Cicero on Oratory and Orators
Translated by J.S. Watson. Introduction by Ralph A. Micken. Foreword by David Potter. Preface by Richard Leo Enos
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986

Contains Cicero’s De Oratore and Brutus, influential sources over the centuries for ideas on rhetoric and train­ing for public leadership.

The De Oratore, written in 55 B.C., argues that rhetoric is socially significant because states are established and main­tained through the leadership of eloquent men.

The three books of dialogues in this volume feature discussions between well-known figures in Roman history, in­cluding Lucius Crassus, Marcus An­tonius, Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Quin­tus Marcius Scaevola, Caius Aurelius Cotta, Julius Caesar Strabo Vopicus, and Publius Sulpicus Rufus.

The Brutus continues the theme of the dialogues, giving a history of eminent orators whose performances exemplify the Ciceronian theory that rhetoric final­ly adds up to leadership.

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Daniel Webster and the Oratory of Civil Religion
Craig R. Smith
University of Missouri Press, 2005
Daniel Webster (1782–1852) embodied the golden age of oratory in America by mastering each of the major genres of public speaking of the time. Even today, many of his victories before the Supreme Court remain as precedents. Webster served in the House, the Senate, and twice as secretary of state. He was so famous as a political orator that his reply “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!” to Senator Robert Hayne in a debate in 1830 was memorized by schoolboys and was on the lips of Northern soldiers as they charged forward in the Civil War. There would have been no 1850 Compromise without Webster, and without the Compromise, the Civil War might well have come earlier to an unprepared North.
Webster was also the consummate ceremonial speaker. He advanced Whig virtues and solidified support for the Union through civil religion, creating a transcendent symbol for the nation that became a metaphor for the working constitutional framework.
While several biographies have been written about Webster, none has focused on his oratorical talent. This study examines Webster’s incredible career from the perspective of his great speeches and how they created a civil religion that moved citizens beyond loyalty and civic virtue to true romantic patriotism. Craig R. Smith places Webster’s speeches in their historical context and then uses the tools of rhetorical criticism to analyze them. He demonstrates that Webster understood not only how rhetorical genres function to meet the expectations of the moment but also how they could be braided to produce long-lasting and literate discourse.
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Digital Griots
African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age
Adam J. Banks
Southern Illinois University Press, 2011
Scholar Adam J. Banks offers a mixtape of African American digital rhetoric in his innovative study Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age. Presenting the DJ as a quintessential example of the digital griot-high-tech storyteller-this book shows how African American storytelling traditions and their digital manifestations can help scholars and teachers shape composition studies, thoroughly linking oral, print, and digital production in ways that centralize African American discursive practices as part of a multicultural set of ideas and pedagogical commitments. 

DJs are models of rhetorical excellence; canon makers; time binders who link past, present, and future in the groove and mix; and intellectuals continuously interpreting the history and current realities of their communities in real time. Banks uses the DJ's practices of the mix, remix, and mixtape as tropes for reimagining writing instruction and the study of rhetoric. He combines many of the debates and tensions that mark black rhetorical traditions and points to ways for scholars and students to embrace those tensions rather than minimize them. This commitment to both honoring traditions and embracing futuristic visions makes this text unique, as do the sites of study included in the examination: mixtape culture, black theology as an activist movement, everyday narratives, and discussions of community engagement. Banks makes explicit these connections, rarely found in African American rhetoric scholarship, to illustrate how competing ideologies, vernacular and academic writing, sacred and secular texts, and oral, print, and digital literacies all must be brought together in the study of African American rhetoric and in the teaching of culturally relevant writing. 

A remarkable addition to the study of African American rhetorical theory and composition studies, Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age will compel scholars and students alike to think about what they know of African American rhetoric in fresh and useful ways.
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Enduring Legacy
Rhetoric and Ritual of the Lost Cause
W. Stuart. Towns
University of Alabama Press, 2013
Explores the crucial role of rhetoric and oratory in creating and propagating a “Lost Cause” public memory of the American South
 
Enduring Legacy explores the vital place of ceremonial oratory in the oral tradition in the South and analyses how rituals such as Confederate Memorial Day, Confederate veteran reunions, and dedication of Confederate monuments have contributed to creating and sustaining a Lost Cause paradigm for Southern identity. Towns studies in detail secessionist and Civil War speeches and how they laid the groundwork for future generations, including Southern responses to the civil rights movement, and beyond.

The Lost Cause orators that came after the Civil War, Towns argues, helped to shape a lasting mythology of the brave Confederate martyr, and the Southern positions for why the Confederacy lost and who was to blame. Innumerable words were spent—in commemorative speeches, newspaper editorials, and statehouse oratory—condemning the evils of Reconstruction, redemption, reconciliation, and the new and future South. Towns concludes with an analysis of how Lost Cause myths still influence Southern and national perceptions of the region today, as evidenced in debates over the continued deployment of the Confederate flag and the popularity of Civil War reenactments.
 
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The Essential Lectures of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1890–1894
Charlotte Perkins Gilman Edited and with an introduction by Andrew J. Ball
University of Alabama Press, 2024

"Literary and feminist scholars will want to take a look." —Publishers Weekly

The last decades have seen a resurgence of interest in Charlotte Perkins Gilman, now considered among the most important thinkers in US history. She is best known for fiction—such as the classic short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” (1892)—and nonfiction, including her manifesto Women and Economics (1898), a work of intersectional sociology avant la lettre. Nevertheless, as a young writer, Gilman made her living delivering lectures. One cannot know Gilman without some knowledge of this body of lectures; this book fills that critical gap in Gilman scholarship.

Since the recovery of Charlotte Perkins Gilman began in the late 1960s and continued with the republication of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” in the 1970s, her image in cultural memory has been increasingly celebrated. Andrew J. Ball presents here fifty previously unpublished texts. They trace the development of Gilman’s thoughts on diverse subjects like gender, education, labor, science, theology, and politics—forming an intellectual diary of her growth.

These lectures are not just a testament to Gilman’s personal evolution, but also a crucial contribution to the foundations of American sociology and philosophy. The Essential Lectures of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1890–1894 marks a historic moment, unveiling the hidden genius of Gilman's oratory legacy.

 

 

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Frederick Douglass
Freedom's Voice, 1818-1845
Gregory P. Lampe
Michigan State University Press, 1998

This work in the MSU Press Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series chronicles Frederick Douglass's preparation for a career in oratory, his emergence as an abolitionist lecturer in 1841, and his development and activities as a public speaker and reformer from 1841 to 1845. Lampe's meticulous scholarship overturns much of the conventional wisdom about this phase of Douglass's life and career uncovering new information about his experiences as a slave and as a fugitive; it provokes a deeper and richer understanding of this renowned orator's emergence as an important voice in the crusade to end slavery. 
     Contrary to conventional wisdom, Douglass was well prepared to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1841. His emergence as an eloquent voice from slavery was not as miraculous as scholars have led us to believe. Lampe begins by tracing Douglass's life as slave in Maryland and as fugitive in New Bedford, showing that experiences gained at this time in his life contributed powerfully to his understanding of rhetoric and to his development as an orator. An examination of his daily oratorical activities from the time of his emergence in Nantucket in 1841 until his departure for England in 1845 dispels many conventional beliefs surrounding this period, especially the belief that Douglass was under the wing of William Lloyd Garrison. Lampe's research shows that Douglass was much more outspoken and independent than previously thought and that at times he was in conflict with white abolitionists. 
     Included in this work is a complete itinerary of Douglass's oratorical activities, correcting errors and omissions in previously published works, as well as two newly discovered complete speech texts, never before published.

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Gilbert Austin's "Chironomia" Revisited
Sympathy, Science, and the Representation of Movement
Sara Newman and Sigrid Streit
Southern Illinois University Press, 2020
This first book-length study of Irish educator, clergyman, and author Gilbert Austin as an elocutionary rhetor investigates how his work informs contemporary scholarship on delivery, rhetorical history and theory, and embodied communication. Authors Sara Newman and Sigrid Streit study Austin’s theoretical system, outlined in his 1806 book Chironomia; or A Treatise on Rhetorical Delivery—an innovative study of gestures as a viable, independent language—and consider how Austin’s efforts to incorporate movement and integrate texts and images intersect with present-day interdisciplinary studies of embodiment.

Austin did not simply categorize gesture mechanically, separating delivery from rhetoric and the discipline’s overall goals, but instead he provided a theoretical framework of written descriptions and illustrations that positions delivery as central to effective rhetoric and civic interactions. Balancing the variable physical elements of human interactions as well as the demands of communication, Austin’s system fortuitously anticipated contemporary inquiries into embodied and nonverbal communication. Enlightenment rhetoricians, scientists, and physicians relied on sympathy and its attendant vivacious and lively ideas to convey feelings and facts to their varied audiences. During the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries, as these disciplines formed increasingly distinct, specialized boundaries, they repurposed existing, shared communication conventions to new ends. While the emerging standards necessarily diverged, each was grounded in the subjective, embodied bedrock of the sympathetic, magical tradition.

 
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The Good Neighbor
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Rhetoric of American Power
Mary E. Stuckey
Michigan State University Press, 2013

No modern president has had as much influence on American national politics as Franklin D. Roosevelt. During FDR’s administration, power shifted from states and localities to the federal government; within the federal government it shifted from Congress to the president; and internationally, it moved from Europe to the United States. All of these changes required significant effort on the part of the president, who triumphed over fierce opposition and succeeded in remaking the American political system in ways that continue to shape our politics today. Using the metaphor of the good neighbor, Mary E. Stuckey examines the persuasive work that took place to authorize these changes. Through the metaphor, FDR’s administration can be better understood: his emphasis on communal values; the importance of national mobilization in domestic as well as foreign affairs in defense of those values; his use of what he considered a particularly democratic approach to public communication; his treatment of friends and his delineation of enemies; and finally, the ways in which he used this rhetoric to broaden his neighborhood from the limits of the United States to encompass the entire world, laying the groundwork for American ideological dominance in the post–World War II era.

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Hillary Clinton's Career in Speeches
The Promises and Perils of Women's Rhetorical Adaptivity
Shawn J. Parry-Giles
Michigan State University Press, 2023
Women candidates are under more pressure to communicate competence and likability than men. And when women balance these rhetorical pressures, charges of inauthenticity creep in, suggesting the structural and strategic anti-woman backlash at play in presidential politics. Hillary Clinton demonstrated considerable ability to adapt her rhetoric across roles, contexts, genres, and audiences. Comparisons between Clinton’s campaign speeches and those of her presidential opponents (Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump) show that her rhetorical range exceeded theirs. And comparisons with Democratic women candidates of 2020 suggest they too exhibited a rhetorical range and faced a backlash similar to Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s Career in Speeches combines statistical text-mining methods with close reading to analyze the rhetorical highs and lows of one of the most successful political women in U.S. history. Drawing on Clinton’s oratory across governing and campaigning, the authors debunk the stereotype that she was a wooden and insufferably wonkish speaker. They marshal evidence for the argument that the sexist tactics in American politics function to turn women’s rhetorical strengths into political liabilities. 
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Kanaka Hawai'i Cartography
Hula, Navigation, and Oratory
Renee Pualani Louis
Oregon State University Press, 2017
Hawai'ian performance cartography is an interactive presentation of place as ‘experienced space’ that situates mapping in the environment, and encodes spatial knowledge into bodily memory via repetitive recitations and other habitual practices.
 
An important symbolic element in Hawai'ian cartography is the storied place name, which reflects Hawai'ian spatial knowledge of the environment. Many Hawai'ian place names performed in daily rituals were a conscious act of locating genealogical connections, recreating cultural landscapes, and regenerating cultural mores. They constitute a critically important body of Hawai'ian cultural knowledge. When Hawai'ian place names were incorporated into Western cartographic maps they were transformed epistemologically. They went from representing place as a repository of cultural knowledge to representing place as an object on the landscape. Hawai'ian spatial knowledge presentation is interactive, multi-sensual, and multi‐ dimensional.
 
Kanaka Hawai'i Cartography interweaves methodology with personal narrative and performance presentation in a playbill format. Three of the seven chapters are presented as “Acts” in a play. The remaining four chapters serve as intermissions or interludes together with a prologue and an epilogue for setting the stage and providing closure. To help make the topic more accessible, complex terms have been minimized, making academic theory easier for the educated reader to understand. The book will fill an important gap in Indigenous and Native Studies and will be welcomed by anyone interested in traditional Hawai’ian performance cartography.
 
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King's Vibrato
Modernism, Blackness, and the Sonic Life of Martin Luther King Jr.
Maurice O. Wallace
Duke University Press, 2022
In King’s Vibrato Maurice O. Wallace explores the sonic character of Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice and its power to move the world. Providing a cultural history and critical theory of the black modernist soundscapes that helped inform King’s vocal timbre, Wallace shows how the qualities of King’s voice depended on a mix of ecclesial architecture and acoustics, musical instrumentation and sound technology, audience and song. He examines the acoustical architectures of the African American churches where King spoke and the centrality of the pipe organ in these churches, offers a black feminist critique of the influence of gospel on King, and outlines how variations in natural environments and sound amplifications made each of King’s three deliveries of the “I Have a Dream” speech unique. By mapping the vocal timbre of one of the most important figures of black hope and protest in American history, Wallace presents King as the embodiment of the sound of modern black thought.
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Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Echoes of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer
A. E. Elmore
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009

While it has long been determined that Abraham Lincoln’s writings were influenced by the King James Bible, until now no full-length study has shown the precise ways in which the Gettysburg Address uses its specific language. Refuting the view that the address was crafted with traditional classical references, this revealing investigation provides a new way to think about the speech and the man who wrote it. A. E. Elmore offers chapter and verse evidence from the Bible as well as specific examples from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to illustrate how Lincoln borrowed from these sources to imbue his speech with meanings that would resonate with his listeners. He cites every significant word and phrase—conceived, brought forth, struggled, remaining, consecrate, dedicate, hallow, devotion, new birth, to name a few—borrowed by Lincoln from these two religious texts for use in his dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

 Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address focuses on a number of overlooked themes and ideas, such as the importance of literary allusion and the general public’s knowledge of the Bible in the age of Lincoln. It provides fresh answers to old questions and poses new questions: Was Lincoln a common thief who made use of words from previously published materials as well as from works by his contemporaries? Was he a genius whose literary and political skills were unmatched? No one who reads this highly engaging study will ever think about Lincoln or the Gettysburg Address the same way again.

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Lincoln's Political Thought
George Kateb
Harvard University Press, 2015

One of the most influential philosophers of liberalism turns his attention to the complexity of Lincoln’s political thought. At the center of Lincoln’s career is an intense passion for equality, a passion that runs so deep in the speeches, messages, and letters that it has the force of religious conviction for Lincoln. George Kateb examines these writings to reveal that this passion explains Lincoln’s reverence for both the Constitution and the Union.

The abolition of slavery was not originally a tenet of Lincoln’s political religion. He affirmed almost to the end of his life that the preservation of the Union was more important than ending slavery. This attitude was consistent with his judgment that at the founding, the agreement to incorporate slaveholding into the Constitution, and thus secure a Constitution, was more vital to the cause of equality than struggling to keep slavery out of the new nation. In Kateb’s reading, Lincoln destroys the Constitution twice, by suspending it as a wartime measure and then by enacting the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery. The first instance was an effort to save the Constitution; the second was an effort to transform it, by making it answer the Declaration’s promises of equality.

The man who emerges in Kateb’s account proves himself adequate to the most terrible political situation in American history. Lincoln’s political life, however, illustrates the unsettling truth that in democratic politics—perhaps in all politics—it is nearly impossible to do the right thing for the right reasons, honestly stated.

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Lincoln's Rise to Eloquence
How He Gained the Presidential Nomination
D. Leigh Henson
University of Illinois Press, 2024
At turns eloquent and earthy, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric played a vital role in his success as a politician and statesman. D. Leigh Henson examines Lincoln’s pre-presidential development as a rhetorician, the purposes and methods behind his speeches and writings, and how the works contributed to his political rise. Lincoln’s close study of the rhetorical process drew on sources that ranged from classical writings to foundational American documents to the speeches of Daniel Webster. As Henson shows, Lincoln applied his learning to combine arguments on historical, legal, and moral grounds with appeals to emotion and his own carefully curated credibility. Henson also explores Lincoln’s use of the elements of structural design to craft coherent arguments that, whatever their varying purposes, used direct and plain language to reach diverse audiences--and laid the groundwork for his rise to the White House.

Insightful and revealing, Lincoln’s Rise to Eloquence follows Lincoln from his early career through the years-long clashes with Stephen A. Douglas to trace the future president’s evolution as a communicator and politician.

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The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Jared Peatman
Southern Illinois University Press, 2013
When Abraham Lincoln addressed the crowd at the new national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863, he intended his speech to be his most eloquent statement on the inextricable link between equality and democracy. However, unwilling to commit to equality at that time, the nation stood ill-prepared to accept the full message of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. In the ensuing century, groups wishing to advance a particular position hijacked Lincoln’s words for their own ends, highlighting the specific parts of the speech that echoed their stance while ignoring the rest. Only as the nation slowly moved toward equality did those invoking Lincoln’s speech come closer to recovering his true purpose. In this incisive work, Jared Peatman seeks to understand Lincoln’s intentions at Gettysburg and how his words were received, invoked, and interpreted over time, providing a timely and insightful analysis of one of America’s most legendary orations.
 
After reviewing the events leading up to November 19, 1863, Peatman examines immediate responses to the ceremony in New York, Gettysburg itself, Confederate Richmond, and London, showing how parochial concerns and political affiliations shaped initial coverage of the day and led to the censoring of Lincoln’s words in some locales.  He then traces how, over time, proponents of certain ideals invoked the particular parts of the address that suited their message, from reunification early in the twentieth century to American democracy and patriotism during the world wars and, finally, to Lincoln’s full intended message of equality during the Civil War centennial commemorations and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Peatman also explores foreign invocations of the Gettysburg Address and its influence on both the Chinese constitution of 1912 and the current French constitution. An epilogue highlights recent and even current applications of the Gettysburg Address and hints at ways the speech might be used in the future.
 
By tracing the evolution of Lincoln’s brief words at a cemetery dedication into a revered document essential to American national identity, this revealing work provides fresh insight into the enduring legacy of Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address on American history and culture.
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Martin Luther King Jr. and the Sermonic Power of Public Discourse
Carolyn Calloway-Thomas
University of Alabama Press, 1993

Critical studies of the range of King’s public discourse as forms of sermonic rhetoric

The nine essays in this volume offer critical studies of the range of King’s public discourse as forms of sermonic rhetoric. They focus on five diverse and relative short examples from King’s body of work: “Death of Evil on the Seashore,” “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” “I Have a Dream,” “A Time to Break Silence,” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
 
Taken collectively, these five works span both the duration of King’s career as a public advocate but also represent the broad scope of his efforts to craft and project a persuasive vision a beloved community that persists through time.

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"My Faith in the Constitution Is Whole"
Barbara Jordan and the Politics of Scripture
Georgetown University Press, 2022

How Barbara Jordan used sacred and secular scriptures in her social activism

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan is well-known as an interpreter and defender of the Constitution, particularly through her landmark speech during Richard Nixon’s 1974 impeachment hearings. However, before she developed faith in the Constitution, Jordan had faith in Christianity. In “My Faith in the Constitution is Whole”: Barbara Jordan and the Politics of Scripture, Robin L. Owens shows how Jordan turned her religious faith and her faith in the Constitution into a powerful civil religious expression of her social activism.

Owens begins by examining the lives and work of the nineteenth-century Black female orator-activists Maria W. Stewart and Anna Julia Cooper. Stewart and Cooper fought for emancipation and women’s rights by “scripturalizing,” or using religious scriptures to engage in political debate. Owens then demonstrates how Jordan built upon this tradition by treating the Constitution as an American “scripture” to advocate for racial justice and gender equality. Case studies of key speeches throughout Jordan’s career show how she quoted the Constitution and other founding documents as sacred texts, used them as sociolinguistic resources, and employed a discursive rhetorical strategy of indirection known as “signifying on scriptures.”

Jordan’s particular use of the Constitution—deeply connected with her background and religious, racial, and gender identity—represents the agency and power reflected in her speeches. Jordan’s strategies also illustrate a broader phenomenon of scripturalization outside of institutional religion and its rhetorical and interpretive possibilities.

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A Nation of Speechifiers
Making an American Public after the Revolution
Carolyn Eastman
University of Chicago Press, 2009

In the decades after the American Revolution, inhabitants of the United States began to shape a new national identity. Telling the story of this messy yet formative process, Carolyn Eastman argues that ordinary men and women gave meaning to American nationhood and national belonging by first learning to imagine themselves as members of a shared public.

She reveals that the creation of this American public—which only gradually developed nationalistic qualities—took place as men and women engaged with oratory and print media not only as readers and listeners but also as writers and speakers. Eastman paints vibrant portraits of the arenas where this engagement played out, from the schools that instructed children in elocution to the debating societies, newspapers, and presses through which different groups jostled to define themselves—sometimes against each other. Demonstrating the previously unrecognized extent to which nonelites participated in the formation of our ideas about politics, manners, and gender and race relations, A Nation of Speechifiers provides an unparalleled genealogy of early American identity.

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On the Orator
Book 3. On Fate. Stoic Paradoxes. Divisions of Oratory
Cicero
Harvard University Press, 2004

The philosopher-statesman on ethics and rhetoric.

Cicero (Marcus Tullius, 106–43 BC), Roman lawyer, orator, politician and philosopher, of whom we know more than of any other Roman, lived through the stirring era that saw the rise, dictatorship, and death of Julius Caesar in a tottering republic. In his political speeches especially and in his correspondence we see the excitement, tension and intrigue of politics and the part he played in the turmoil of the time. Of about 106 speeches, delivered before the Roman people or the Senate if they were political, before jurors if judicial, fifty-eight survive (a few of them incompletely). In the fourteenth century Petrarch and other Italian humanists discovered manuscripts containing more than 900 letters of which more than 800 were written by Cicero and nearly 100 by others to him. These afford a revelation of the man all the more striking because most were not written for publication. Six rhetorical works survive and another in fragments. Philosophical works include seven extant major compositions and a number of others; and some lost. There is also poetry, some original, some as translations from the Greek.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of Cicero is in twenty-nine volumes.

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Oratorical Culture in Nineteenth-Century America
Transformations in the Theory and Practice of Rhetoric
Gregory Clark and S. Michael Halloran
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993

Gregory Clark and S. Michael Halloran bring together nine essays that explore change in both the theory and the practice of rhetoric in the nineteenth-century United States.

In their introductory essay, Clark and Halloran argue that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, rhetoric encompassed a neoclassical oratorical culture in which speakers articulated common values to establish consensual moral authority that directed community thought and action. As the century progressed, however, moral authority shifted from the civic realm to the professional, thus expanding participation in the community as it fragmented the community itself. Clark and Halloran argue that this shift was a transformation in which rhetoric was reconceived to meet changing cultural needs.

Part I examines the theories and practices of rhetoric that dominated at the beginning of the century. The essays in this section include "Edward Everett and Neoclassical Oratory in Genteel America" by Ronald F. Reid, "The Oratorical Poetic of Timothy Dwight" by Gregory Clark, "The Sermon as Public Discourse: Austin Phelps and the Conservative Homiletic Tradition in Nineteenth-Century America" by Russel Hirst, and "A Rhetoric of Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century America" by P. Joy Rouse.

Part 2 examines rhetorical changes in the culture that developed during that century. The essays include "The Popularization of Nineteenth-Century Rhetoric: Elocution and the Private Learner" by Nan Johnson, "Rhetorical Power in the Victorian Parlor: Godey’s Lady’s Book and the Gendering of Nineteenth-Century Rhetoric" by Nicole Tonkovich, "Jane Addams and the Social Rhetoric of Democracy" by Catherine Peaden, "The Divergence of Purpose and Practice on the Chatauqua: Keith Vawter’s Self-Defense" by Frederick J.Antczak and Edith Siemers, and "The Rhetoric of Picturesque Scenery: A Nineteenth-Century Epideictic" by S. Michael Halloran.

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The Orator’s Education, Volume I
Books 1–2
Quintilian
Harvard University Press, 2001

A central work in the history of rhetoric.

Quintilian, born in Spain about AD 35, became a widely known and highly successful teacher of rhetoric in Rome. The Orator’s Education (Institutio Oratoria), a comprehensive training program in twelve books, draws on his own rich experience. It is a work of enduring importance, not only for its insights on oratory, but for the picture it paints of education and social attitudes in the Roman world.

Quintilian offers both general and specific advice. He gives guidelines for proper schooling (beginning with the young boy); analyzes the structure of speeches; recommends devices that will engage listeners and appeal to their emotions; reviews a wide range of Greek and Latin authors of use to the orator; and counsels on memory, delivery, and gestures.

Donald Russell’s five-volume Loeb Classical Library edition of The Orator’s Education, which replaces an eighty-year-old translation by H. E. Butler, provides a text and facing translation that are fully up to date in light of current scholarship and well tuned to today’s manner of expression. Russell also provides unusually rich explanatory notes, which enable full appreciation of this central work in the history of rhetoric.

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The Orator’s Education, Volume II
Books 3–5
Quintilian
Harvard University Press, 2001

A central work in the history of rhetoric.

Quintilian, born in Spain about AD 35, became a widely known and highly successful teacher of rhetoric in Rome. The Orator’s Education (Institutio Oratoria), a comprehensive training program in twelve books, draws on his own rich experience. It is a work of enduring importance, not only for its insights on oratory, but for the picture it paints of education and social attitudes in the Roman world.

Quintilian offers both general and specific advice. He gives guidelines for proper schooling (beginning with the young boy); analyzes the structure of speeches; recommends devices that will engage listeners and appeal to their emotions; reviews a wide range of Greek and Latin authors of use to the orator; and counsels on memory, delivery, and gestures.

Donald Russell’s five-volume Loeb Classical Library edition of The Orator’s Education, which replaces an eighty-year-old translation by H. E. Butler, provides a text and facing translation that are fully up to date in light of current scholarship and well tuned to today’s manner of expression. Russell also provides unusually rich explanatory notes, which enable full appreciation of this central work in the history of rhetoric.

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The Orator’s Education, Volume III
Books 6–8
Quintilian
Harvard University Press, 2001

A central work in the history of rhetoric.

Quintilian, born in Spain about AD 35, became a widely known and highly successful teacher of rhetoric in Rome. The Orator’s Education (Institutio Oratoria), a comprehensive training program in twelve books, draws on his own rich experience. It is a work of enduring importance, not only for its insights on oratory, but for the picture it paints of education and social attitudes in the Roman world.

Quintilian offers both general and specific advice. He gives guidelines for proper schooling (beginning with the young boy); analyzes the structure of speeches; recommends devices that will engage listeners and appeal to their emotions; reviews a wide range of Greek and Latin authors of use to the orator; and counsels on memory, delivery, and gestures.

Donald Russell’s five-volume Loeb Classical Library edition of The Orator’s Education, which replaces an eighty-year-old translation by H. E. Butler, provides a text and facing translation that are fully up to date in light of current scholarship and well tuned to today’s manner of expression. Russell also provides unusually rich explanatory notes, which enable full appreciation of this central work in the history of rhetoric.

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The Orator’s Education, Volume IV
Books 9–10
Quintilian
Harvard University Press, 2001

A central work in the history of rhetoric.

Quintilian, born in Spain about AD 35, became a widely known and highly successful teacher of rhetoric in Rome. The Orator’s Education (Institutio Oratoria), a comprehensive training program in twelve books, draws on his own rich experience. It is a work of enduring importance, not only for its insights on oratory, but for the picture it paints of education and social attitudes in the Roman world.

Quintilian offers both general and specific advice. He gives guidelines for proper schooling (beginning with the young boy); analyzes the structure of speeches; recommends devices that will engage listeners and appeal to their emotions; reviews a wide range of Greek and Latin authors of use to the orator; and counsels on memory, delivery, and gestures.

Donald Russell’s five-volume Loeb Classical Library edition of The Orator’s Education, which replaces an eighty-year-old translation by H. E. Butler, provides a text and facing translation that are fully up to date in light of current scholarship and well tuned to today’s manner of expression. Russell also provides unusually rich explanatory notes, which enable full appreciation of this central work in the history of rhetoric.

[more]

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The Orator’s Education, Volume V
Books 11–12
Quintilian
Harvard University Press, 2001

A central work in the history of rhetoric.

Quintilian, born in Spain about AD 35, became a widely known and highly successful teacher of rhetoric in Rome. The Orator’s Education (Institutio Oratoria), a comprehensive training program in twelve books, draws on his own rich experience. It is a work of enduring importance, not only for its insights on oratory, but for the picture it paints of education and social attitudes in the Roman world.

Quintilian offers both general and specific advice. He gives guidelines for proper schooling (beginning with the young boy); analyzes the structure of speeches; recommends devices that will engage listeners and appeal to their emotions; reviews a wide range of Greek and Latin authors of use to the orator; and counsels on memory, delivery, and gestures.

Donald Russell’s five-volume Loeb Classical Library edition of The Orator’s Education, which replaces an eighty-year-old translation by H. E. Butler, provides a text and facing translation that are fully up to date in light of current scholarship and well tuned to today’s manner of expression. Russell also provides unusually rich explanatory notes, which enable full appreciation of this central work in the history of rhetoric.

[more]

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Oratory in Native North America
William M. Clements
University of Arizona Press, 2002
In Euroamerican annals of contact with Native Americans, Indians have consistently been portrayed as master orators who demonstrate natural eloquence during treaty negotiations, councils, and religious ceremonies. Esteemed by early European commentators more than indigenous storytelling, oratory was in fact a way of establishing self-worth among Native Americans, and might even be viewed as their supreme literary achievement. William Clements now explores the reasons for the acclaim given to Native oratory. He examines in detail a wide range of source material representing cultures throughout North America, analyzing speeches made by Natives as recorded by whites, such as observations of treaty negotiations, accounts by travelers, missionaries' reports, captivity narratives, and soldiers' memoirs.

Here is a rich documentation of oratory dating from the earliest records: Benjamin Franklin's publication of treaty proceedings with the Six Nations of the Iroquois; the travel narratives of John Lawson, who visited Carolina Indians in the early 1700s; accounts of Jesuit missionary Pierre De Smet, who evangelized to Northern Plains Indians in the nineteenth century; and much more. The book also includes full texts of several orations. These texts are comprehensive documents that report not only the contents of the speeches but the entirety of the delivery: the textures, situations, and contexts that constitute oratorical events. While there are valid concerns about the reliability of early recorded oratory given the prejudices of those recording them, Clements points out that we must learn what we can from that record.

He extends the thread unwoven in his earlier study Native American Verbal Art to show that the long history of textualization of American Indian oral performance offers much that can reward the reader willing to scrutinize the entirety of the texts. By focusing on this one genre of verbal art, he shows us ways in which the sources are—and are not—valuable and what we must do to ascertain their value. Oratory in Native North America is a panoramic work that introduces readers to a vast history of Native speech while recognizing the limitations in premodern reporting. By guiding us through this labyrinth, Clements shows that with understanding we can gain significant insight not only into Native American culture but also into a rich storehouse of language and performance art.
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The Political Power of the Word
Press and Oratory in Nineteenth-century Latin America
Edited by Ivan Jaksic
University of London Press, 2002

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Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing
Translations from Books One, Two, and Ten of the "Institutio oratoria"
Edited by James J. Murphy and Cleve Wiese
Southern Illinois University Press, 2016
Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing, edited by James J. Murphy and Cleve Wiese, offers scholars and students insights into the pedagogies of Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (ca. 35–ca. 95 CE), one of Rome’s most famous teachers of rhetoric. Providing translations of three key sections from Quintilian’s important and influential Institutio oratoria (Education of the Orator), this volume outlines the systematic educational processes that Quintilian inherited from the Greeks, foregrounding his rationale for a rhetorical education on the interrelationship between reading, speaking, listening, and writing, and emphasizing the blending of moral purpose and artistic skill.
 
Translated here, Books One, Two, and Ten of the Institutio oratoria offer the essence of Quintilian’s holistic rhetorical educational plan that ranges from early interplay between written and spoken language to later honing of facilitas, the readiness to use language in any situation. Along with these translations, this new edition of Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing contains an expanded scholarly introduction with an enhanced theoretical and historical section, an expanded discussion of teaching methods, and a new analytic guide directing the reader to a closer examination of the translations themselves.
 
A contemporary approach to one of the most influential educational works in the history of Western culture, Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing provides access not only to translations of key sections of Quintilian’s educational program but also a robust contemporary framework for the training of humane and effective citizens through the teaching of speaking and writing.
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Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing
Translations from Books One, Two and Ten of the Institutio oratoria
James J. Murphy
Southern Illinois University Press, 1987

Quintilian’s method is based on the interrelationship between speaking, reading, and writing. Murphy lists and defines the main elements that appear in the Institutio oratorio. Each of these elements—Precept, Imitation, Composition Exercises, Declamation, and Sequencing—is further subdivided according to goals and exercises.

The first two books of the Institutio oratorio concern the early education of the orator, with the focus on the interplay between seen-language and heard-language. Book Ten is an adult’s commentary on the instruction of rhetoric. It involves itself primarily with facilitas, the readiness to use language in any situation.

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Reagan and Public Discourse in America
Michael Weiler
University of Alabama Press, 1992
A critical assessment of the impact of the administration of President Ronald Reagan on public discourse in the United States

The authors show that more than any president since John F. Kennedy, Reagan’s influence flowed from his rhetorical practices. And he is remembered as having reversed certain trends and cast the U.S. on a new course. The contributors to this insightful collection of essays show that Reagan’s rhetorical tactics were matters of primary concern to his administration’s chief political strategists.
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Regendering Delivery
The Fifth Canon and Antebellum Women Rhetors
Lindal Buchanan
Southern Illinois University Press, 2005

Lindal Buchanan thoroughly analyzes how antebellum women infiltrated the male-dominated realm of public speaking by adapting elocutionary instruction to subversive ends, developing distinctive delivery styles, and reconciling conflicting public and private roles. By detailing the education and oratorical practices of pioneering female public speakers, Regendering Delivery: The Fifth Canon and Antebellum Women Rhetors theorizes how gender impacted the fifth rhetorical canon of delivery and how cultural constructions of the feminine have shaped public performance.

Buchanan argues that restrictive gender norms encouraged antebellum women rhetors to develop unique styles and methods of rhetorical production and performance. She examines how schoolgirls devised ways to learn and practice elocution in academic settings and how women developed inventive delivery strategies to maintain the appearance of femininity even as they participated in conventionally masculine discursive activities from general public speaking to political lobbying. She also identifies collaborative methods that enabled antebellum women to negotiate conflicts between their domestic and rhetorical commitments and thus reach public platforms

Assessing the calculable impact of gender on rhetorical performance, Buchanan maintains that delivery holds particular sexual and textual connotations for women rhetors. Regendering Delivery notably contributes to ongoing feminist efforts to incorporate women into the rhetorical tradition by probing such gendered—and largely overlooked—aspects of oratorical delivery as cultural context, gender norms, elocutionary education, sexuality, maternity, feminine ethos, and collaboration.

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Rhetorical Criticism
A Study In Method
Edwin Black
University of Wisconsin Press, 1978
Winner, Speech Communication Association Award for Distinguished Scholarship

This is a book that, almost singlehandedly, freed scholars from the narrow constraints of a single critical paradigm and created a new era in the study of public discourse. Its original publication in 1965 created a spirited controversy. Here Edwin Black examines the assumptions and principles underlying neo-Aristotelian theory and suggests an alternative approach to criticism, centering around the concept of the "rhetorical transaction." This new edition, containing Black's new introduction, will enable students and scholars to secure a copy of one of the most influential books ever written in the field.
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Rhetorical Questions
Studies of Public Discourse
Edwin Black
University of Chicago Press, 1992
From classical antiquity through the Renaissance, rhetoric was the prime vehicle of education in the West and the discipline that prepared students for civic life. With a comprehensiveness drawn from this tradition, Edwin Black here probes the incongruities between form and substance that open public discourse to significant interpretation. 

Locating rhetorical studies at the confluence of literature and politics, Black focuses on the ideological component of seemingly literary texts and the use of literary devices to advance political advocacy. The essays collected here range in subject matter from nineteenth-century oratory to New York Times editorials to the rhetoric of Richard Nixon. Unifying the collection are the concerns of secrecy and disclosure, identity, opposition, the scope of argument in public persuasion, and the historical mutability of rhetorical forms.
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Shakespeare's Women
A Playscript for Performance and Analysis
Libby Appel and Michael Flachmann
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986

Serves both as a script for performance and as a text for high school and college theater and English classes.

This self-contained script brings together different scenes from Shake­speare’s plays to portray women “in all their infinite variety.” Two narrators, a man and a woman, introduce and com­ment on these scenes, weaving together the different characters and situations.

This book combines literary and theat­rical techniques in examining Shake­speare’s women. Its promptbook format provides clear, helpful stage directions on pages facing each of the scenes. Also help­ful are concise glosses and footnotes to define difficult words and phrases plus a commentary to explain each scene in its dramatic context.

Other features include sheet music for each song in the play, a bibliography on the topic of women in Shakespeare’s plays, and suggestions for directors who wish to stage the play.

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Speechifying
The Words and Legacy of Johnnetta Betsch Cole
Johnnetta Betsch Cole. Celeste Watkins-Hayes and Erica Lorraine Williams, editors
Duke University Press, 2023
Speechifying collects the most important speeches of Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole—noted Black feminist anthropologist, the first Black female president of Spelman College, former director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art, and former chair and president of the National Council of Negro Women. A powerful and eloquent orator, Dr. Cole demonstrates her commitment to the success of historically Black colleges and universities, her ideas about the central importance of diversity and inclusion in higher education, the impact of growing up in the segregated South on her life and activism, and her belief in public service. Drawing on a range of Black thinkers, writers, and artists as well as biblical scripture and spirituals, her speeches give voice to the most urgent and polarizing issues of our time while inspiring transformational leadership and change. Speechifying also includes interviews with Dr. Cole that highlight her perspective as a Black feminist, her dedication to public speaking and “speechifying” in the tradition of the Black church, and the impact that her leadership and mentorship have had on generations of Black feminist scholars.
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Themistius and the Imperial Court
Oratory, Civic Duty, and Paideia from Constantius to Theodosius
John Vanderspoel
University of Michigan Press, 1995
For generations the debate has continued: can politicians, or mid-level administrators, speak freely and say what they think, or must they describe their superiors in purely flattering ways and abandon any philosophy of independent thought? The politician and philosopher Themistius faced these same issues in the later fourth century, in composing and delivering his panegyrics for several Roman emperors.
John Vanderspoel examines the relationship between Themistius and the emperors whom he served, and assesses realistically how philosopher and emperor interacted. Themistius' speeches cover a range of periods and topics, and offer an important body of evidence for governmental affairs in the later fourth century.
Themistius and the Imperial Court includes chapters on Themistius himself, as well as on his relations with the emperors Constantius, Julian, Jovian, Valens, and Theodosius. Appendices discuss Themistius' philosophical works and extant speeches, present translations of selected sections of his Orations, and offer a chronology of Themistius' speeches, among other topics.
Themistius and the Imperial Court will be of interest to ancient historians, classicists, students and scholars of the ancient Near East, and all those interested in power politics within governing classes.
John Vanderspoel is Associate Professor of Ancient History, University of Calgary. He has written numerous articles and reviews on late antiquity.
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Vicente Ximenes, LBJ's Great Society, and Mexican American Civil Rights Rhetoric
Michelle Hall Kells, with a foreword by Juan C. Guerra
Southern Illinois University Press, 2018
Beginning as a grassroots organizer in the 1950s, Vicente Ximenes was at the forefront of the movement for Mexican American civil rights through three presidential administrations, joining Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and later emerging as one of the highest-ranking appointees in Johnson’s administration. Ximenes succeeded largely because he could adapt his rhetoric for different audiences in his speeches and writings. Michelle Hall Kells elucidates Ximenes’s achievements through a rhetorical history of his career as an activist.
 
Kells draws on Ximenes’s extensive archive of speeches, reports, articles, and oral interviews to present the activist’s rhetorical history. After a discussion of Ximenes’s early life, the author focuses on his career as an activist, examining Ximenes’s leadership in several key civil rights events, including the historic 1967 White House Cabinet Committee Hearings on Mexican American Affairs. Also highlighted is his role in advancing Mexican Americans and Latinos from social marginalization to greater representation in national politics.
 
This book shows us a remarkable man who dedicated the majority of his life to public service, using rhetoric to mobilize activists for change to secure civil rights advances for his fellow Mexican Americans.
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The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me
The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jonathan Rieder
Harvard University Press, 2008
“You don’t know me,” Martin Luther King, Jr., once declared to those who criticized his denunciation of the Vietnam War, who wanted to confine him to the ghetto of “black” issues. Now, forty years after being felled by an assassin’s bullet, it is still difficult to take the measure of the man: apostle of peace or angry prophet; sublime exponent of a beloved community or fiery Moses leading his people up from bondage; black preacher or translator of blackness to the white world?This book explores the extraordinary performances through which King played with all of these possibilities, and others too, blending and gliding in and out of idioms and identities. Taking us deep into King’s backstage discussions with colleagues, his preaching to black congregations, his exhortations in mass meetings, and his crossover addresses to whites, Jonathan Rieder tells a powerful story about the tangle of race, talk, and identity in the life of one of America’s greatest moral and political leaders.A brilliant interpretive endeavor grounded in the sociology of culture, The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me delves into the intricacies of King’s sermons, speeches, storytelling, exhortations, jokes, jeremiads, taunts, repartee, eulogies, confessions, lamentation, and gallows humor, as well as the author’s interviews with members of King’s inner circle. The King who emerges is a distinctively modern figure who, in straddling the boundaries of diverse traditions, ultimately transcended them all.
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