Reading List and Links
for SPCM 497 Spring 2004

For Week 3: Begin readings of Michael Sproule's The Heritage of Rhetorical Theory.
Historical and Cultural Resources for Public Speaking
Historical and Cultural Resources
Rhetorics of the World
Rhetoric in Athens and Rome

Respond to the following questions

1. How does Sproule justify using the past to learn public speaking skills in the present postmodern world [and what does that word mean anyway]?
2. What are a couple of the BIG IDEAS we can learn about the uses and strategies of rhetoric by looking at Egyptian and Asian Cultures?
3. In your own words tell me why the teaching of public speaking skills seems particularly connected to the practice of democracy?
4. Sproule talks at length about ethics and credibility as being at the heart of Greek and Roman discussions of rhetoric.  Why was it so important?  And do you see any of the same concerns in current textbooks?  in the "real" world?

For Week 4: Begin readings of Cicero's Institutes of Oratory

Book II

Respond to the following questions about Book 2

1. What does Q. say about what kind of person the rhetoric teacher should be and what kinds of strategies he should use to best encourage students?

2. Q. talks about exercises students do--narrations, common places, theses, etc.  Does he think these set pieces are useful in the real world? Why or why not?

3. Why can't instruction in rhetorical skills be boiled down to a book of rules?

Second set of questions on Book II

1. What is rhetoric? [according to Quintilian]

2. Do you think rhetoric is an art?  Why or why not?

3. What in Book 2 struck you as surprising, interesting, or raised an issue you might want to find out more about?

For Week 5 and 6 Finish readings of Quintilian's Institutes of Oratory

Book XI
and Book XII

Study questions for Books 11 and 12: Due Tuesday Feb. 17
In Book 11
1.  What advice does Q have for improving the memory of speakers?
2.   How important is delivery to Q.?
3.  What are the elements of the voice?  or what are the vocal characteristics that matter in delivery?

In Book 12:

1.  This book is the culmination of Q's work here he really describes the heart and soul of the ideal orator he set out to form and to explain how to form.  What are the characteristics of this 'good man skilled in speaking" that Q describes.  How does he act?  How does he differ from a bad man?  Why should we be motivated to cultivate true eloquence?  These questions are really the ones Q deals with in Book 12 (he is in some sense using the techniques of narrative, comparison, metaphor anecdote, etc. that he uses to teach young orators as he writes this section--so he is repeating himself often).  I am just asking you to try to render them in your own words.

For Week 7

Here are the Progymnasmata, the Roman Exercises all listed and discussed on Gideon Burton's website.  We've done two rounds of exercises with them and the used #13 to support our midterm evaluation.
  1. Fable
  2. Narrative
  3. Chreia
  4. Proverb
  5. Refutation
  6. Confirmation
  7. Commonplace
  8. Encomium
  9. Vituperation
  10. Comparison
  11. Impersonation
  12. Description
  13. Thesis or Theme
  14. Defend / Attack a Law

Read Sproule on Early American Public Speaking Training
Read Excerpts from the History of Speech Education


This week we will continue to work with the nineteenth century but you must also check out information on assignments for the rest of the term.

Public Speaking Textbook Project II
Final Project Assignment     [Final Project Topic Form]

For Week 9 : in class we are listening to presentations on 19th century readings

For Week 10--this is the week after break

Read about the Rhetorical Canons at: this website (you'll need to click on the links to go to each canon) .  The discussions are not long, you want to read them well enough that you will be ready for a brief quiz about the reading.

Read your textbook chapters so that you are ready to talk about where you are heading with the textbook project, part II

For Week 11
Read Sproule on Plain Speech Movement and answer the following questions for Thursday April 1:

1. What are the characteristics of the "plain speech movement" as characterized by Sproule?

2. How do these characteristics differ from Sproule's presentation of the characteristics of 19th century discourse?   [to answer this you may have to click on the "previous" link at the end of the Sproule essay online since that will take you back to the 19th century page.]

3. How do they differ from what we learned about the characteristics of 19th century discourse and speech training during our presentations?
Read Sproule on Using Your Resources for Better Speech and answer the following questions for Tuesday April 6

1. In Sproule's summary of his whole essay he makes clear that his goal has been to prove that "ethical, social, and cultural traditions of the past can lead us to better public speaking in the present. As a speaker in the diffuse and changing circumstances of postmodern America, you should be aim to marshal as many resources from as many sources as possible."  What are four of the concepts/principles identified by Sproule that come out of those "ethical, social and cultural traditions of the past"? 

2. Reflect on your own behaviors as a public speaker--especially those you have noted in non-classroom environments.  What resources have you used from your own life experience, what influences do you think have encouraged you to develop the kind of speaking style you have developed? [I will be hoping for a couple of paragraphs in response to this question.  The easiest way to respond might be to identify 3-4 characteristics you have as a speaker--telling stories, using humor, organizing ideas, practicing, using visual aids like powerpoint, gesturing, etc. , explaining those characteristics briefly and then reflecting on what in your life influenced the development of each of those habits.]

3. Do you think that the study of speeches, like the speech of Ann Richards discussed in Sproule, can make someone a better speaker?  Why or why not?  [Those of you taking rhetorical criticism ought to be thinking about this question quite seriously.]

For Weeks 12, 13 and 14 We will be listening to final projects and hearing the best tips for oral presentations in different fields.  Be ready to be a formal peer critic for your classmate's presentation for classwork point credit.

Extra Credit Classwork Points Option