Communication and Culture | Public Speaking, Honors
C130 | 25091 | Terrill, R.
Open to Hutton Honors College students only
Instructor: Robert Terrill
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 223
This course participates in and continues a tradition of education
in public speaking that stretches back for thousands of years.
Within this course, public speaking is recognized as a practical art
with both immediate application in contemporary culture and ancient
roots entangled inexorably with the development of democratic
practice. With the invention of democracy in ancient Athens, the
story goes, the need arose among citizens for training in the
presentation of persuasive arguments in public venues. Preparing
such speeches, naturally, required astute critical analysis of the
prevailing social and political climate, of the immediate audience,
and especially of previous public speeches. A new field of study,
rhetoric, developed in response to the need for education in the
analysis and invention of public discourse. Throughout the ages,
rhetoric was among the core liberal arts thought necessary for the
formation of democratic citizens.
This course operates under the assumption that a rhetorical
education continues to provide skills and habits of thought that are
essential tools for negotiating contemporary life, and it is
designed as an introduction to this ancient and practical art.
The ability to speak publicly with fluency and grace certainly has
many uses, advantages, and entailments: it may aid in self-
expression and build self-confidence; it develops skills in audience
analysis and strategic planning; it provides practice in using
sensory language and vivid examples; it has immediate implications
for understanding judgment and ethics; and of course it may prove
useful in a business setting. All of these will be discussed,
practiced, and theorized within this course. Above all, however,
courses such as this one are intended encourage productive
engagement in democratic civic life.
Course evaluation will be based on at least three major speeches,
together with several smaller assignments. Our primary textbook
will be Aristotle’s Rhetoric, which has a proven track record going
back through the millennia of providing the basis for the
inventional, critical, and engaged form of public speaking that will
be emphasized in this course. This text will be supplemented by
other readings, both ancient and modern, that concentrate on the
theory and practice of rhetoric.
If you have questions about this course, please contact the
professor Robert Terrill at: .