Workshop aims. challenge common criticisms of English curriculum
1. Great Speeches (re)framing the rhetorical tradition in English Mark Howie
Penrith High School, NSW
3. English -a site of (incoherent) moral panic?
4. English -a site of (youthful arrogance) &moral panic?
5. Great Speeches: Recent Publications
6. Great speeches: speechwriters’ memoirs
7. Great speeches: ABC/RN
8. Speeches: the NSW context HSC elective choice in Advanced English
set for Module B: Critical Study
BOS ‘collection’ (available on web) begins with Socrates and ends with Mary McAleese
includes speeches by Cicero, Lincoln, Luther King, Havel, Keating, Pearson, Suu Kyi, Atwood (amongst others)
9. The NSW Syllabus: Module B Students explore the ideas expressed in the text through analysing its construction, content and language. They examine how particular features of the text contribute to textual integrity. They research others’ perspectives of the text and test these against their own understanding and interpretations of the text. Students discuss and evaluate the ways in which the set work has been read, received and valued in historical and other contexts. They extrapolate from this study of a particular text to explore questions of textual integrity and significance.
10. The sacred & the profane: English & change
11. The sacred & the profane: English & change
12. Tensions in English: rhetoric & a more inclusive subject field? Terry Eagleton:
[Rhetoric] saw speaking and writing not merely as textual objects, to be aesthetically contemplated or endlessly deconstructed, but as forms of activity inseperable from the wider social relations between writers and readers, orators and audiences….rhetoricans studied [language] devices in other people’s language in order to use them more productively in their own. It was…a ‘creative’ as well as a ‘critical’ activity. [Literary Theory, 1983, 206-207]
13. Tensions in English: rhetoric & a more inclusive subject field? Richard Andrews:
…a rhetorical perspective allows us to see that our subject is profoundly democratic (rhetoric’s classical function) in that it foregrounds argument and enables language to accept and explore difference….placing language as the more central issue than literature, at the same time it enhances and clarifies the function of literature and narrative in our societies ….[against reductive ‘back to basics’ discourses] it draws on centuries of concern with language in society and politics.
(‘The Future of English, E in A, 106, Dec. 1993)
14. Programming starting points Focus of unit: How meaning is made through responding to a particular text in different contexts to develop understandings of textual integrity.
Synthesis in approach and a balance: The importance of responding to the speeches & the interpretations of others in a critical & evaluatory way.
Developing a personal response: centered in the text (but moves beyond it), developmental, multi-layered & ‘tested’ against that of others (ie dialectical & dialogic in nature).
16. Sequencing learning A possible way of sequencing teaching and learning:
Phase 1: engaging students with the text and its ideas
Phase 2: exploring how these ideas are expressed in the text through analysis of its construction, content and language, and examining how particular features of the text contribute to textual integrity
Phase 3: researching others’ perspectives of the text and testing these against their own understanding and interpretations, in the process considering and evaluating the ways in which the set work has been read, received and valued in historical and other contexts
Phase 4: affirming a deep personal critical understanding of the text through exploring questions of textual integrity and significance.
17. Framing Module B Following MacLachlan and Reid (Framing and Interpretation,1994), the term frame is used in the model outlined here as emphasis on ‘framing’ draws “attention to agency and acknowledges the complex nature of the interpretive process” (p.9). (cf Module emphasis on ‘personal’)
The term draws attention to the ways in which participants in any act of interpretation interact with each other to produce meaning.
It suggests a reciprocal activity: something readers do to texts and something texts do to readers - raising issues of interpretative freedom and control.
It is an alternative to deterministic idea of CONTEXT as given & existing independently of an act of interpretation
18. Framing Module B Circumtextual framing: the mediating context of production. Raises questions such as: who has produced this text? why have they produced it? who have they produced it for? what meaning(s) do they expect or want to be made from the text? The placement of a text in a particular communicative space, in this case Module B (Advanced) English in NSW as prescribed by the requirements of the BOS, will shape the meaning we will, and indeed are able to make.
Intratextual framing: the structural, subdivisional and other internal framing devices (eg chronological or non-chronological arrangement of speeches in BOS collection)
19. Framing Module B Extratextual framing: the influence of ‘outside’ information, unspecified by the text but felt to be presupposed by it; the drawing on our accumulated knowledge of the world (experiential and textually mediated).
Intertextual framing: the relating of one text or text-type to another. (Obviously, how a particular speech might refer directly to another- Lincoln / Martin Luther King) or ‘echo’ another (McAleese / Socrates). In the framework I am also proposing this will include students relating different stages of their own response to each other.)
20. Framing Module B: phased textual orientation
21. Framing Module B: phased textual orientation
22. Speeches: framing a program
23. Speeches: framing a program
24. Speeches: framing a program
25. Speeches: framing a program
26. Speeches: the legacy of the Enlightenment & the values & traditions of western liberal democracy EXTRACT FROM ESSAY INTRO: establishing notion of reception & valuation in different contexts:
…These speeches are representative of the universal ideals of the Enlightenment, promoting freedom, reason and truth through the employment of rhetoric. The tradition of rhetoric remains an essential feature of the critical analysis of texts in contemporary society, further signifying the relevance and worth of the speeches to an audience being educated in the art of effective communication and critical thinking. Furthermore, the texts raise several fundamental themes, uniting common goals including the search for reason and meaning in life, humanity’s responsibility to create a virtuous society, and the need for unprejudiced co-existence and understanding.
27. Speeches: the legacy of the Enlightenment & the values & traditions of western liberal democracy EXTRACT FROM ARGUMENT: synthesising perspectives in a personal response
….Reading Socrates’ speech through Aristotelian standards of rhetoric, it is evident no attempt is made to establish a good character for, nor does he endeavour to favour the emotional state of, his immediate audience, the jury. The frequent use of high modality reinforces this argument, apparent in the line, ‘you may acquit or not, but I shall not alter my conduct, no, not if I have to die a score of deaths’, and similarly in the use of the active voice against the jury, ‘thou doest wrong’. Lacking remorse and reticence, which one would expect from a man on trial for his life, such statements insinuate Socrates’ intended audience was history, rather than his contemporary addressees.
28. Speeches: the legacy of the Enlightenment & the values & traditions of western liberal democracy EXTRACT FROM ARGUMENT: synthesising perspectives in a personal response
….McAleese adds further weight to the universality of her position, and engages an audience beyond the immediate audience to which she was speaking, by making use of history and international law to gain credence and present her views as learned and reasoned. This rhetorical technique of an appeal to external authority is demonstrated in her references to Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Magna Carta and historical events such as ‘the immigrant issue…affecting so many countries, including my own.’ Thus McAleese submits an articulate, rational case which consequently becomes worthy of study as an example of rhetoric and for its promotion of virtuous values and societal mores such as freedom of speech and empathy across cultures.
29. Speeches: the legacy of the Enlightenment & the values & traditions of western liberal democracy EXTRACT FROM CONCLUSION In evaluating the speeches of Socrates, McAleese and Cicero, it becomes apparent all, despite their differing historical and social contexts, transcend time and remain of great value to contemporary audiences. The effective use of rhetorical devices furthers their enduring relevance and significance to humanity, enhancing the authoritative and virtuous nature of each orator….all are undeniably worthy of recognition in the 21st century as furthering the ideals, aspirations and enduring ideologies of Western European culture.