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Project 1: Civic Engagement Speech


Civic Engagement Speech

For this assignment, you will design and deliver a speech about civic engagement. This speech can take one of two forms.

Option 1: Analysis of Civic Engagement Artifact

If you choose this option, you will select a civic engagement artifact—generally a notice about or invitation to an event or involvement opportunity on campus, in the State College community, in your hometown, or nationally—that you feel qualifies as an opportunity for civic engagement (past or future). Then plan a three- to four-minute speech about the artifact based on RCL course material and discussions in Unit One. After a brief description of the artifact (perhaps aided by an image of the artifact in question), you will want to draw upon concepts raised in class discussion and materials to explain how the event or opportunity in question can be seen as civic and what ideologies and/or civic commonplaces are contained in or assumed by the artifact. Your speech might also explain what the overall rhetorical purpose or purposes of the engagement opportunity might be, and how the artifact is framing the very idea of civic engagement.

Option 2: Civic Life Interview

If you select this option, you will plan and conduct an interview with an older relative, an older friend of the family, or someone you know at school who is at least ten years older than you. During the interview, discuss the activities in which they are involved outside of work and home, what they think being a good citizen means, how they divide private and public life, and relevant commitments, attitudes, and beliefs. Use the interview as the basis of a three- to four-minute speech you design and then deliver to the class about your interviewee’s civic life based on RCL course material and discussions in Unit One. After a brief sketch of your interviewee’s civic “profile” (perhaps aided by an image or a very brief sound clip), you will want to draw on concepts raised in class discussion and materials to explain how the interviewee approaches civic life, what civic opportunities he or she notices and/or seizes, and what ideologies and/or civic commonplaces can be detected in the interviewee’s reflections.

No matter which option you choose, note that your job is not to advocate for a cause or to offer any sort of evaluative commentary on the opportunity or the interviewee (we will have ample opportunity for advocacy next semester in RCL II). Instead, the point is to offer for consideration a concrete instance or account of civic life and think very generally about how the civic and the rhetorical are connected.

Speeches will be delivered in front of your classmates and instructor on one of the dates listed on the syllabus. We will determine who will speak on what date very soon.

The aims of this assignment are fourfold and will be evaluated accordingly:

demonstrate a solid grasp of concepts related to the course’s main focus (rhetoric, civic life, ideology, commonplaces, citizenship) by attending to the civic and rhetorical dimensions of the world around us
develop strategies for gathering and organizing information
begin building speechmaking skills (e.g., planning a talk; practicing; keeping to time constraints)
practice working with multimedia (visual image or a sound clip) in the context of a speech


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