Checklist for Seminar Report on the Analysis of a Speech

COMM 4353 American Public Address (Smith)

Name of Orator
Title of Speech
Occasion/Place Delivered
Date Speech Delivered

I.  Brief Rhetorical Biography of the Speaker
	General biography and important life events
		Life chronology
		Family influences (class, occupation, values)
		Public career and important experiences
		Forces shaping values and ideology
		Major sources of speaker’s ethos
	Rhetorical biography
		Education and rhetorical training
		Nature and extent of public speaking experiences
		Significance of oratory in the speaker’s life and career
		Methods of preparation and delivery
		Characteristics of general rhetorical style

II.  The Rhetorical Situation for the Speech

The Exigence:
What issue led to the decision to speak?
What was the specific occasion for the rhetorical act?
Why was this an issue?  (Bennett: structural, agenda, crisis)
What was the specific point of stasis? (fact, definition, value, policy)
What were the prevailing opinions or oppositional arguments on the issue?
Who were the prominent or implicit counteradvocates?
How could the issue be resolved or determined through rhetoric?

The Audiences (Immediate and Secondary)
Were the audiences in a position to respond appropriately?
Were the audiences receptive to persuasion through argument?
What were the demographics of the audiences? (size, age, background, etc.)
What were audiences’ level of knowledge, beliefs, interests,hopes, concerns?
What were values, needs, biases, goals, fears, motives of the audience?

The Constraints:
What were the social, political, cultural, and ideological constraints?
Where was the locus of power and who held control?
What were the situational or institutional constraints?
What constraints were created by the audience?
What were the consequences of violating the “rules”?
Did the more important constraints come from the audience or the situation?
Did constraints limit rhetorical choice in language, style, data, arguments?
Did the speaker have any special constraints on or opportunities for persuasion?

III.  The Text of the Speech
What was the source of the text for analysis? Authencity and accuracy?
Did the speaker use notes of full text?
When and how was the text created?
Where is the original text?  Where are copies available for researchers?

IV.  Description, Analysis, and Evaluation of the Arguments
What was the speaker’s specific purpose?
What were the main claims advanced ? (facts, definitions, policies, values)
What data were used as evidence for the arguments? (statistics, 
testimony, examples)
Were the data honest, sound, ethical, believable, relevant, accepted?
What types of warrants were used? (substantive, authoritative, motivational)
What were the explicit and implicit values in the message? (Fisher)
What were the explicit and implicit assumptions about the distribution of power?
Were the arguments complete? (Toulmin analysis)
What were the counterarguments and how were they refuted?
Were the arguments ethical, sound, and effective with the specific audiences?
Did the arguments fit the “universal audience” standard? (Pereln)
Were the arguments wise?  Were the ideas important?
Does the speech have lasting value?
Why did the arguments persuade or fail to persuade?

V.  Organization, Style, and Delivery

Does the introduction construct the reality and frame the question effectively?
Is the purpose made clear?
How does the structure of the arguments contribute to persuasion?
How does the order of the arguments fit the situation and audience?
How do the counterarguments shape the organization?
How does the speaker manage purpose, evidence, and ideas?

How is language used to reflect and influence thought?
Does the language give clues about the speaker’s views of self and opposition?
How do the situation and culture influence choice of language?
Did the language give life to the ideas and arguments? (Give examples & quotes)
Does the speaker use loaded words, jargon, confusing language?

Was the speech impromptu, extemporaneous, or prepared?
Were the volume and tenor appropriate for the topic and the audience?
What did observers say about the quality or effect of the delivery?

VI.  Historical and Rhetorical Value
Why was the speech considered important?
Why does the speech remain important and valuable for the study of persuasion?
What can we learn about effective rhetoric from the examples of this speech?
Does the speech still provide understanding of events, ideas, issues, values, power?

VII.  Bibliography
General biographical sources on the rhetor.
Books and journal articles analyzing the rhetoric of the speaker or the speech.
Sources for collections of documents or important speech texts.
Text of the speech 
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