Reader Lecture 24 Adams, Grimke, Fell, Wollstonecraft

Reader Lecture 24 Adams, Grimke, Fell, Wollstonecraft -...

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John Quincy Adams While best known as President (1824-28), John Quincy Adams held, in 1806, the chair of Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at his alma matter, Harvard. As part of the responsibility of his position, Adams was required to deliver a series of lectures on rhetoric “based upon the models of the ancients.” When Adams was first notified of his appointment in 1805, he was still serving as senator of Massachusetts. He immediately set to work on the lectures. We know that he read and studied many writers on rhetoric, including Quintilian, Cicero, Bacon, and George Campbell. He presented thirty-six lectures between 1806 and 1809. (You will read number eleven, on deliberative rhetoric.) While the overall reaction to the lectures was lukewarm, when students heard that Adams was leaving Harvard to become United States Minister to Russia, they asked that the lectures be published. In 1810, Adams wrote in his diary that “I shall never, unless by some special favor of Heaven, accomplish any work of higher elevation.” However, the lectures failed to make much public impact. Still, when read today, the Adams lectures give a solid, informative summary of much that has been written about various rhetorical forms. The section here is included to give you more ideas about your own deliberative speech. There is also a sense in which Adams is specifically American in his formation of rhetoric; he offers a public, straightforward, clear and practical guide to public debate and discussion. It is precisely what you might expect to hear from a member of one of the founding families of the Revolution, one who was witness to the evolution of the American public speech. from Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory “Deliberative Oratory” To ascertain the arguments peculiarly suitable to each of the three kinds of public speaking, where eloquence may be displayed, we must resort to that special principle, which constitutes the distinctive character of the kind. Thus we have seen, that, as show is the essential property of demonstrative orations, the arguments, best adapted to discourses of that class, are such as display sentiment or character. Proceeding in the same track to discover the arguments, which fall within the province of deliberative oratory, we are to recollect, that the characteristic common measure of this class is utility. Deliberation presupposes a freedom of election in the deliberating body. It presupposes alternatives, which may be adopted or rejected. The issue of deliberation is action, and the final determination, what that action shall be, results from a sense of utility or expediency, entertained by the speaker's audience. The object of the orator then is to persuade his hearers, and to influence their conduct in relation to a future measure. His task is to inspire them with the belief, that the adoption of that, which he recommends, or the rejection of that, which he dissuades, would be useful either to the hearers themselves, or to their
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course HUM 2B at San Jose State.

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Reader Lecture 24 Adams, Grimke, Fell, Wollstonecraft -...

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