Study Suggestions for the Exams
This should aid you in preparing for the exam by giving you a list of
skills that you should have developed in analyzing speeches and speaking
in the 20th century. These are not necessarily questions from the test,
but if you are able to do the things listed here you should do all right
on the test. You should be able to do the following:
With the speeches you have studied:
- Given a significant piece of text from the speech, identify the speaker,
speech, and the year it was given. (Such passages from the speech will
not be obscure but will have characteristics you should recognize.)
- Know the basic facts about the speech. Who was the speaker? Why was
he important? When did he give the speech? Why? What was his purpose? What
were the material conditions that gave the speech importance? How well
did the speaker achieve the purpose?
- Discuss the historical moment and the demands that the moment made on the speaker. How and what it called for in leadership?
- Discuss the frame with which the speech interprets its moment. What
were the material characteristics of the moment that the speech frames?
What strategies does it use to frame it?
- Discuss the strategy with which the speech transforms its moment toward
the speaker's purpose. What is the speaker's purpose(s)? What in his/her
moment does the speaker choose to frame toward his/her purpose? How does
s/he do this?
- Discuss the motivational power of the speech. Who would the speech
motivate? Why? How does the speech go about motivating this audience?
- Identify the public to whom the text is addressed and discuss its characteristics.
Does the speech help create that public? How? What is the speeches effect
on that public?
- How does the speech activate public leadership? How does it enhance
the speaker's power?
- Discuss other important rhetorical characteristics of the speech: Does
it argue? How? What is its style? Are there narratives important in the
- Identify powerful characteristics of American discourse invoked in
the speech and discuss the way in which the speech uses them.
- Compare and contrast the speech to other speeches you have studied.
- In general, construct an account of why a speech is powerful or not
powerful within its time and place.
Toward understanding speaking and leadership
- Make a list of general situations leaders find themselves facing that demand rhetoric from them. (Example: motivating or justifying war; leading social movements; motivating government action)
- Make a list of concepts (and concept systems) that you have learned that leaders use to think through their strategies in these moments
- Make a list of key terms we have used to describe the demands and the strategies that leaders use
- Write a short essay outlining what you have learned about what leaders do with their voices when facing those general situations.
Toward a general knowledge of Speaking by American Leaders in the
- Describe the characteristics of speaking within the times and places
of the century. At particular times, what voices would you as a citizen have heard in the public sphere? How have the demands on speakers changed in different times? How did speaking
change to meet them?
- What general conclusions have you been able to draw about the characteristics
of speakers we havce studied? Are their characteristics you can point to that are shared in the speaking of effective leaders?
- Discern characteristics of speaking that carry from speeches earlier
in the century to speeches later in the century. What echoes of the earlier century do you hear later?
- How has evolving media affected American speaking in the century?
Remember these things in preparing for the exam:
- The exam will be half matching, multiple choice, or short answer (also half
the grade), and half essay. The latter will have either one extended or two
shorter questions. That means that about half your grade will be on recall
of names, dates, and identification of speeches and about half on your ability
to interpret the speeches.
- There will be an extra-credit that you will earn by being able to reproduce
a chunk of a speech. In picking these I will take famous speeches from the
century (such as FDR's first inaugural) and select important sections from
- Those who can reproduce perfectly everything from class and readings
will have about a "C" on the exam. I expect you to learn things
in class that will allow you to go beyond the class discussion to draw your
own conclusions about the speeches that we study and how they relate to leadership.
You need to know the material to do well on the exam, but you need to also
be able to use the things that you have learned to deal with speeches given
in times demanding leadership. This is where your active participation in discussion pays off.
- One method of studying for the exam that previous students have found helpful
is to have a study group in which you quiz each other and critique each other's
Reviewing Notes for the exam
There are four kinds of information included in the notes that are online. You will do different things with these elements. Following is the key.
- General vocabulary and orientation to the course. (in black) You will want to learn the vocabulary and understand the perspective presented in this orientational material.
- Historical Context for the rhetoric. (in brown) This is information that provides you the background to understand how the rhetoric responds to the historical moment. Leadership is using rhetoric to respond appropriately to the moment. Understanding the moment obviously is a prerequisite for understanding and evaluating such response. You should be able to discuss the speeches you have studied in terms of their response to their historical moment.
- Characteristics of the rhetoric of the times, the speaker, or the moment, and the origins of those characteristics in the history of American discourse. (in green) This is information to help you understand the specific characteristics of the speeches you are studying and their antecedents that give them power through their familiarity to American audiences. Speakers, seeking to capture the material conditions and transform them into significant events by placing them into context draw upon familiar themes, forms and characteristics through which past Americans have made sense of their world. You should be able to discuss the speeches to critique, illustrate, or expand on these characteristics and their relationship to American speaking..
- Vocabulary and theory to help you understand the place of rhetoric in leadership. (in blue) You should learn this vocabulary and the theory of how rhetoric interacts with leadership. You should be able to apply these concepts to the speeches you have studied.