A Source for Rhetorical Artifacts

I know it can be challenging to simply “come up with” a rhetorical artifact worth writing about.  We’ll look at a couple of student examples on Tuesday, but I do want to offer speeches for your consideration: they have a clear and specific audience (as opposed to a message on, say, the internet, which has a much broader audience), they take place at a particular time and in a particular place, they face unique constraints, and the rhetorical appeals and techniques usually are quickly identifiable.

I’m not at all trying to steer you toward analyzing public addresses, but they can make your task easier, particularly if you’re stumped.  The go-to source for a list of American speeches is American Rhetoric.  While the site design may look a bit dated–it’s run by volunteers–it is the definitive resource for text, audio, and video (when available) for the key addresses delivered in America since its founding.

(My only suggestion would be that you do not pick a speech from a movie.  While not a firm requirement, the audience changes significantly–it’s no longer merely the characters in the film, but also the physical audience of the film viewer.  You’d need to think very carefully about the norms and functioning of rhetoric of film speeches–sort of a sub-genre–in addition to what the speech does on its own.  This is an added layer of complexity that often leads first-time analysts astray.)

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