This unit will look at four women who have contributed to Georgia's oratory traditions: Author Pearl Cleage, Dean Nell Trotter, Mayor Shirley Franklin, and Georgia Senator Cathey Steinberg. All four of these women have considerable experience in giving speeches and all have very different styles. This unit will examine the written speeches of Nell Trotter and Cathey Steinberg from the Georgia State University Library's Special Collections Collection for Research on Women and Gender. Students will analyze how structure, message, audience, and purpose create the foundations of a good speech. Then students will watch videos of Pearl Cleage and Shirley Franklin giving speeches. Students will analyze how body language, intonation, context, and eye contact are also part of rhetorical practices.
To be sure, some may argue that the art of rhetoric is not as important as writing evidenced based papers or reading prominent works of literature. Others may argue that Plato and Aristotle are the foundations of rhetoric, and therefore should be the fundamental works studied.
The art of rhetoric and persuasion are proving more and more influential as society develops. Politicians, political pundits, talk show hosts, artists, and authors are all using rhetoric to shape our knowledge of the world. We believe it is not only impotant for students to be able to employ rhetoric for their own devices but also to be able to critically analyze other's use of rhetoric. Students should understand that a long pause for dramatic affect might be summoning their sense of nostalgia or empathy more than the actual message of the speech. They should be able to garner the ploys from the meaning.
Students should also appreciate that rhetoric is a modern tool used to push policies, honor the past, ask for money or support, etc. While Plato and Aristotle created the fundamentals of rhetoric, it is used now, and students will encounter it and be asked to use it often. Rhetorical studies have long been associated with men, and this curriculum aims to break that mold, bringing women's contributions into the discussion. This will show all students that women's rhetoric is an important addition to our understanding of rhetoric.
Phone: (404) 413-2880
Fax: (404) 413-2881
Special Collections & Archives
Georgia State University Library
100 Decatur Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3202
Library South, 8th floor