Public Speaking (Fall 2001-2009) NYU and SUNY

Professor Julia Evergreen Keefer

Dr. Keefer is also available for individual tutoring, corporate consultations, and performance coaching


Course Requirements


Required Texts: THE ART OF PUBLIC SPEAKING by Steven Lucas, THE TWILIGHT OF AMERICAN CULTURE by Morris Berman, and IN OUR OWN WORDS by Senator Robert Torricelli.
Use of Texts: Study Lucas very carefully. You can read ahead, backwards and forwards but make sure you know the assigned readings well enough to be able to take surprise quizzes. Read IN OUR OWN WORDS for fun, knowledge, analysis and to find speeches to act out for the first quarter of the semester. Read Morris Berman's THE TWILIGHT OF AMERICAN CULTURE to get a background for projects and to understand course theme. It's best read all at once -- and then reread--
or savored a bit every night, like a fine wine. Put the book by your bed and read a few pages before going to sleep. Let yourself agree or disagree strongly with the premises so that you have some material for argumentative speeches and small group discussion. Consult Keefer website for ideas, skills, and fun. You should also submit bibliographies (of books, articles, internet sites, interviews etc) for your 3 main speeches. Although this is primarily a skills course, the content of the speeches should also be instructional and worthy of debate and discussion, in the academic sense.

The course theme is Civilisation vs Terrorism/Jihad vs McWorld: Whose Paradise is Lost? so you can peruse this website for ideas, and research any idea you find useful to you intellectually and professionally. In other words, we don't need informative speeches on how to change a flat tire, directions you can get from a manual, or persuasive speeches on cliche topics like abortion and capital punishment that can be easily be plagiarized. Try to make your content as original as your unique method of presentation. No one has exactly the same face, body and voice as you do; no one should say the same things in the same way.

The course objectives are to develop your voice internally as well as externally, to stimulate you as a thinker as well as a speaker so that you have something worthwhile and interesting to say as well as the skill to present the material evocatively and persuasively to different kinds of audiences. You should be able to prepare, research, organize, deliver and analyse informative, persuasive and small group speeches by the end of this course. You will also have an introduction to American twentieth century rhetoric, the rhetoric after 9/11, basic logic and argumentation, and the interplay of culture and communication.

GRADING: Class participation: In addition to arriving and leaving class on time, completing weekly assignments and delivering excellent speeches, grades are also based on the critiques you give classmates. On the days when speeches are being delivered, you must bring index cards to class. Put the student's name on the card, not yours, and be as frank as possible about your critique. The student will collect the index cards afterwards and file them away. We will also have oral critiques.
N.B. Bring a small tape recorder to every class so that you can self critique at home, transcribe speeches, and listen to classmates' feedback. You must also constantly check the website, participate in the joint listserv with NYU, and act out your alter ego for final speeches that will be filmed. Any submissions accepted for publication in the Journal of Online Education Terrorism issue will give you extra credit.


Please check this syllabus every week online for changes throughout the semester. Spot quizzes on reading assignments are possible anytime, either oral or written.

August 29: Impromtu self introductory speeches, informal and formal. For the next three classes, each student will read aloud a speech from IN OUR OWN WORDS, analyse it and do an impromptu rebuttal or confirmation of the ideas therein. Read Lucas p2-29 for intro to public speaking, ethics and plagiarism.

August 31: Discussion of technique, voice and articulation, presentation etc. Perform speeches from IN OUR OWN WORDS. Read Lucas p255-309 for language, and delivery including voice, presentation and nonverbal communication.

September 5: Role playing and discussion of different voices and personae. Speech analyses from IN OUR OWN WORDS. The following are the guidelines of critiques of speeches throughout the semester: On your index card, put down the speaker's name, the date. Then ELEMENTS OF THE SPEECH: INTRODUCTION, BODY AND CONCLUSION. SUBJECT/PURPOSE should be clear, unified. THESIS and MAJOR PROPOSITION logically based on subject/purpose. The speaker should reveal a commitment to thesis and theme. SUPPORTING MATERIALS should be substantial, credible and logical. ORGANIZATION should show coherence, emphasis, and transitions. STYLE/LANGUAGE refers to word choice, appropriate metaphors, comparisons. DELIVERY includes eye contact, volume, pitch, pace, variety, articulation and pronunciation.

September 7: Continue speeches from IN OUR OWN WORDS. Read TWILIGHT OF AMERICAN CULTURE by Morris Berman p14-71. Think of topics related to theme. Consult Keefer website. Bring topic ideas for next week. You MUST keep up with the readings and should be ready any time for spot quizzes. Quizzes are likely to be impromptu speeches on topics covered in the texts so be ready to think on your feet.

September 12: Break into 4 small groups for the semester. Brainstorm your personal topic ideas with your group. Read Lucas p74-119. Your three major assignments, an informative, a persuasive, and a small group speech will be developed under the umbrella of your group. You will be presenting three different speeches, but all within the same general area of interest, in order to give you more confidence as a speaker and more depth in your research. You will only "appear" with your group at the end, but you will be meeting throughout the semester, using each other for rehearsal, and brainstorming topics.

September 14: Read Lucas p124-159, gathering materials. Discuss theses for informative speeches. For next week, write 2-3 pages analysing an effective and an ineffective speech about 9/11. Bring hard copies and put in listserv. Read books pertinent to topics: JIHAD VS MCWORLD, AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH, BRAVE NEW WORLD, IN PLATO'S CAVE, COLD NEW WORLD etc.

September 19: Lecture on research methodology for informative speeches. Informative speeches should not be dry and pedantic. You saw how many of the speeches in IN OUR OWN WORDS appealed to emotions with narrative, descriptive passages, irony, feelings of every kind. Commit yourself to your material completely, know it well, establish yourself as an authority and try to explain something that is complex and abstract. Read Lucas p164-189, supporting materials. Brainstorm with small groups. Prepare research report for next week. Write a 2-3 page paper on your research ideas.

September 21: Discussion of topics and research strategies. Read p191-252 on outlining and preparing speech. Bring rough outlines and questions to next class. Debate on Bush's rhetoric and role in 9/11.

September 26: Analyse bibliography. Lecture on outlining. Read Lucas p340-365 on informative speeches.

September 28: Discussion of types of organization. Impromptu speeches on topics covered so far in class and texts.

October 3: Audience analysis. Impromptu speeches on topics covered so far. Read this lecture to help you develop research topic.

October 5: Outlines of Informative Speeches due. Discussion and critique of strategies.

October 10:Presentation of Informative Speeches. Bring index cards, tape recorder and tape. You must confine speeches to 7-10 minutes.

October 12: Presentation of Informative Speeches. Dress Rehearsals.

October 17: Presentation of Informative Speeches. Final Midterm grades.

October 19: Presentation of Informative Speeches. Read Lucas 368-397 on argumentation. Read Berman 71-91.

October 24: Lecture on logic and argumentative strategies. Classical, Rogerian, Monroe, Toulmin etc. Read Lucas p400-433. Prepare thesis proposal for argumentative speech. Read Berman 91-103.

October 26: Read Berman 103-132. Hand in bibliographies. Lecture on logical fallacies.

October 31: Audience analysis --hostile--and role playing. Outlines of Argumentative Speeches due. Read Berman 132-183.

November 2: Critiques of alter ego speeches in terms of logical fallacies., Revised Outlines of Argumentative Speeches due.

November 7: Argumentative Speeches due. Role playing for hostile audiences.Don't forget to bring tape recorders and index cards.

November 9: Argumentative Speeches due. Read Lucas p 453-472 on small groups.

November 16: Argumentative Speeches for grades.

November 18: Argumentative Speeches for grades. Over the break keep collecting material in alter ego's voice and make a list of three problems you want to solve with the group. Brainstorm problems in listserv.

November 28: Monologues due. Small Group meetings and rehearsals. Problem solving. Role Playing.

November 30: Small Group meetings and rehearsals. Problem solving. Debates.

December 5:Small Group Speeches or Debates: A and B. These will be taped, compressed and uploaded to the internet.

December 7:Small Group Speeches or Debates: C and D. These will be taped, compressed and uploaded to the internet.

December 14: Final Exam. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Collect webfolio with speech and critique from IN OUR OWN WORDS, persuasive speech, argumentative speech, and small group speech and contributions. Self appraisal and improvement based on index cards and comments from classmates and professor, and self criticism. Individual conferences and review of webfolios. Upload best work to the Terrorism issue of the Journal of Online Education for the World Association for Online Education.