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COURSE NAME: "Public Speaking: Oral Rhetoric and Persuasion"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Thomas Govero
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 3:00-4:15 PM
OFFICE HOURS: By appoinment including weekends

This course provides students with an introduction to the fundamentals of rhetoric and how they are applied in oral communication, and how these principles and concepts lead to effective public speaking. Students will learn how to prepare and organize persuasive speeches by learning the fundamental structures of the persuasive speech. In addition, students will begin to acquire basic skills in critical reasoning, including how to structure a thesis statement and support it through a specific line of reasoning using idea subordination, coordination, and parallel structure.

Introductions and presentations

. A review of rhetorical theory and development from the Greeks to modern times.

. Topic selection, brain storming, topic refinement, outlining, developing a thesis statement

. Techniques of persuasion; format for reports

. Structuring an argument with supporting arguments, and rhetorical devices

. Adaptation of content and style to the audience.

. Introductions and conclusions - formats, variations, appeals.

. Review of great speeches in history and speakers. (with critiques)

. Listening skills.


This is a hands-on course designed to build skills. This does not mean that it has no cognitive

content, however. We shall also examine the rhetorical tradition from the Greeks to modern

times and consider its applicability today as noted above.



At the termination of the course...

. You should be able to confidently, calmly be to develop and present a 10-15 minute prrepared speech using

clear diction, logical development, persuasive ideas, apt quotations, data and statistics...and maybe some humor too.

. Have a critical arsenal to judge content, style and persuasiveness of public speeches

. Be a critical, more attentive, careful listener.

. Have the skills to deliver informative reports clearly and precisely

. Have developed and employed interview skills as a means to collect data for your speeches.

. Know your own shortcomings and be on the way to improve on them.

. Be able to use appropriate voice control and body language when speaking publicly.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
xxxxxxxxxxXXX Almost Corner
Thank You for ArguingJay HendrichsThree Rivers Press978-0-8041-8993-4xxxxxx-Almost Corner

5 Resumes 10%
Participation 10%
Speeches - 4 60%
Impromptu Speeches 20%
Northeastern University Students only:Two additional written critiques of speeches from a viva voce source or from internet sources which will be presented orally to the class.25% or final, 4 credits

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Please note the following "housekeeping" guidelines:

. If you are late, please do not enter the classroom if a student is speaking. Too distracting. Wait until the speaker

has finished and then enter - better, don't be late!

. Order of speakers: this will vary for each speech. In most cases I will designate the speaker on the spot. If you are

not prepared, THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP or POSTPONEMENTS. Speeches can be delayed only for the most grave

reasons such as serious illness.

. Please respect (as you wish to be respected) the speakers by listening (and not talking during their presentations)

or otherwise distracting them.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


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SessionSession FocusReading AssignmentOther AssignmentMeeting Place/Exam Dates
Monday, Jan 16Introduction to the course: review of syllabus, logistics, "burning questions", evaluation, goals; self-introduction (non-graded). Definition of terms: rhetoric, persuasion, deliberative speaking, judicial/forensic speaking, celebratory speaking. Article: "Sound" Article: "Only Connect"Two outside, public speeches. One due at Midterm, March 10th Textbook readings will be given at different times and résumé will be written on the contents of textbook chapters. 
Wednesday, Jan. 18Paired introductions. Overcoming anxiety and fear. Benefits of public speaking. Adjusting speech to audience. Review of "Sound". The voice: producing sound, projecting sound, the voice as an instrument.Artilcle: "Parts of Speech" Film, Mark Pagels, "Language and Culture"  
Monday, Jan. 23Listening skills. Choosing a speech topic, brainstorming, outling the speech, basic rules of speech delivery, use of notes and props.  Speech No. 1: Deliberative-Informative Speech "Guidelines and Criteria" Due: Monday, Jan. 30 
Wednesday, Jan. 25Brainstorming, outlining, preparing and using notes. Film: J. K. Rowland, "Harvard Commencement Speech 2008" Critique and review of speech. Critiquing the speech: logos, ethos, pathos   
Monday, Jan. 30Speech Presentation No. 1: Deliberative Speeches   
Wednesday, Feb. 1Continued presentation of Speech No. 1 Note: this is the last day for presentations.   
Monday, Feb. 6General critique and review of speeches. Confessions: What do I need to do to improve? Overview of the development of rhetoric and communications since the Greeks. Harold Innis, article.  
Wednesday, Feb. 8Impromptu speeches No. 2 (non-graded)The Alphabet Effect (In-class reading)Speech No. 2: "Pro/Con" Speech" Guidelines and Criteria Due: Wednesday, Feb. 15 
Friday, Feb. 10 (Make-up day)Guest Speaker: Barack Obama, "Philadelphia Speech" Review and critiques   
Monday, Feb. 13Elements of non-verbal communiation. Gestures and body language. Impromptu speech 3   
Wednesday, Feb. 15Presentation of Speech No. 2, "Pro/Con"   
Monday, Feb. 20Continued presentation of Speech 2: "Pro/Con" Note: this is the last day for presentations.   
Wednesday, February 22General critique of speeches. Confession: What I need to do to Impove. Speech No. 3: Interview Speech. "Criteria and Guidelines" 
Monday, February 27Interviewing Techniques. Interview speech due: Monday, March 13    
Wednesday, March 1Impromptu speech 3 Catch-up    
Monday, March 8First speech critique due Oral review of critiques.   
Friday, March 10: Make-up day. We will not meet on this day but you will be assigned an outside speech to attend during the semester    
Monday, March 13Speech Presentations No. 3: Inteview Speeches   
Wednesday, March 15Continued Presentations of Speech No. 3: Interview Speeches Note: Last day for speech presentations.   
Monday, March 20Persuasive speech "Guidelines and Criteria" Techniques of the Persuasive Speech Speech No. 4: Persuasive Speech Due: Monday, 24 
Wednesday, March 22Embellishments in Language: Epigrams, Proverbs, Crystalized Speech and LanguageHandout to be discussed in class.  
Monday, March 27 Roberts Rules of Order Impromptu speeches 4   
Wednesday, March 29Catch-up, Impromptu speeches, film: Robertson, "A New Paradigm" (TED TALK)    
April 3 - 7 Midterm Break    
Monday, April 10 Presentation of Persuasive speeches.    
Wednesday, April 12Continued Presentation of Persuasive Speeches. Last day to present speech   
Monday, April 17Holiday   
Wednesday, April 19 Impromptu speeches 5 (graded) Speech no 5: Commemorative Speech: Criteria and Guidelines   
Monday, April 24Catch-up day and final evaluation   
Wednesday, April 26: Last ClassGeneral Assessment