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Presentation on theme: "Context."— Presentation transcript:

1 Context

2 The Importance of Context
Context: The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting Knowing more about the context of something helps the audience understand how it came about, and what it is referring, or alluding, to.

3 What should you look for?
historical background social/cultural biases, trends, traditions, etc. political situation at the time Any other relevant information (e.g. biographical information about the author)

4 Speech Analysis: I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most memorable speeches of all time. We can all learn speech- writing skills from King’s historic masterpiece.

5 Speech Video: Martin Luther King Jr. delivers “I Have a Dream”
Much of the greatness of this speech is tied to its historical context We will focus on five key lessons in speechwriting that we can extract from Martin Luther King’s most famous speech. Emphasize phrases by repeating at the beginning of sentences Repeat key “theme” words throughout your speech Utilize appropriate quotations or allusions Use specific examples to “ground” your arguments Use metaphors to highlight contrasting concepts

6 Emphasize Phrases by Repeating at the Beginning of Sentences
Anaphora (repeating words at the beginning of neighbouring clauses) is a commonly used rhetorical device. Repeating the words twice sets the pattern, and further repetitions emphasize the pattern and increase the rhetorical effect.

7 “I have a dream” “I have a dream” is repeated in eight successive sentences, and is one of the most often cited examples of anaphora in modern rhetoric. But this is just one of eight occurrences of anaphora in this speech. By order of introduction, here are the key phrases: “One hundred years later…” [paragraph 3] “Now is the time…” [paragraph 6] “We must…” [paragraph 8] “We can never (cannot) be satisfied…” [paragraph 13] “Go back to…” [paragraph 14] “I Have a Dream…” [paragraphs 16 through 24] “With this faith, …” [paragraph 26] “Let freedom ring (from) …” [paragraphs 27 through 41]

8 Repeat Key “Theme” Words Throughout Your Speech
Repetition in forms like anaphora is quite obvious, but there are more subtle ways to use repetition as well. One way is to repeat key “theme” words throughout the body of your speech


10 “I Have a Dream”, If you count the frequency of words used in King’s “I Have a Dream”, very interesting patterns emerge. The most commonly used noun is freedom, which is used twenty times in the speech. This makes sense, since freedom is one of the primary themes of the speech. Other key themes? Consider these commonly repeated words: freedom (20 times) we (30 times), our (17 times), you (8 times) nation (10 times), america (5 times), american (4 times) justice (8 times) and injustice (3 times) dream (11 times)

11 “I Have a Dream” can be summarized in the view below, which associates the size of the word with its frequency.

12 Utilize Appropriate Quotations or Allusions
Evoking historic and literary references is a powerful speechwriting technique which can be executed explicitly (a direct quotation) or implicitly (allusion). You can improve the credibility of your arguments by referring to the (appropriate) words of credible speakers/writers in your speech. Consider the allusions used by Martin Luther King Jr.:

13 Appropriate Quotations or Allusions Continued
“Five score years ago…” [paragraph 2] refers to Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address speech which began “Four score and seven years ago…” This allusion is particularly poignant given that King was speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” [and the rest of paragraph 4] is a reference to the United States Declaration of Independence. Numerous Biblical allusions provide the moral basis for King’s arguments: “It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.” [paragraph 2] alludes to Psalms 30:5 “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.“ “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” [paragraph 8] evokes Jeremiah 2:13 “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.“

14 Use specific examples to “ground” your arguments
speech is greatly improved when you provide specific examples which illustrate your logical (and perhaps theoretical) arguments. One way that Martin Luther King Jr. accomplishes this is to make numerous geographic references throughout the speech: Mississippi, New York [paragraph 13] Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana [14] Georgia [18] Mississippi [19] Alabama [22] New Hampshire [32], New York [33], Pennsylvania [34], Colorado [35], California [36], Georgia [37], Tennessee [38], Mississippi [39] Note that Mississippi is mentioned on four separate occasions. This is not accidental; mentioning Mississippi would evoke some of the strongest emotions and images for his audience. Additionally, King uses relatively generic geographic references to make his message more inclusive: “slums and ghettos of our northern cities” [paragraph 14] “the South” [25] “From every mountainside” [40] “from every village and every hamlet” [41]

15 Use Metaphors to Highlight Contrasting Concepts
Metaphors allow you to associate your speech concepts with concrete images and emotions. To highlight the contrast between two abstract concepts, consider associating them with contrasting concrete metaphors. For example, to contrast segregation with racial justice, King evokes the contrasting metaphors of dark and desolate valley (of segregation) and sunlit path (of racial justice.) “joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity” [paragraph 2] “the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity” [3] “rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice” [6] “This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.” [7] “sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” [19]

16 Speech Transcript: I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
1] I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [2] Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

17 But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

18 President George W. Bush: Bullhorn Speech
President George W. Bush: Bullhorn Speech to Emergency Rescue Workers at 9/11 Ground Zero, New York. Delivered 14 September Complete transcript and audio mp3 at:

19 Speech at Ground Zero George W. Bush Thank you all. I want you all to know -- it [bullhorn] can't go any louder -- I want you all to know that America today, America today is on bended knee, in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn. The nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens. I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon! The nation -- The nation sends its love and compassion to everybody who is here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for makin' the nation proud, and may God bless America.

20 President Obama’s Address to the Nation September 10, 2014

21 America’s responsibility to lead
President Obama called American leadership the “one constant in an uncertain world.” From fighting terrorism, to rallying the world against Russian aggression, to helping to stop the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the U.S. continues to play a critical leading role across the globe: It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America -- our scientists, our doctors, our know-how -- that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, and tolerance, and a more hopeful future. “Our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead.” When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said: “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.” That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety, our own security, depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for –- timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth. May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

22 Read the following quotations.
Discuss who the authors were and the context from which they originate.

23 “The world is too dangerous to live in – not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen.” – Albert Einstein “There was no particular day on which I said, From henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation on my people; instead I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.” – Nelson Mandela “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against an injustice, he send forth a tiny ripple of hope.” – Robert F. Kennedy “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committee citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin “Let us not forget, after all, that there is always a moment when a moral choice is made.” – Elie Wiesel

24 Let’s Review: The Importance of Context
Context: The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting Knowing more about the context of something helps the audience understand how it came about, and what it is referring, or alluding, to. What should you look for? historical background social/cultural biases, trends, traditions, etc. political situation at the time Any other relevant information (e.g. biographical information about the author)

25 Dinner Guest: Me I know I am The Negro Problem Being wined and dined, Answering the usual questions That come to white mind Which seeks demurely To Probe in polite way The why and wherewithal Of darkness U.S.A.-- Wondering how things got this way In current democratic night, Murmuring gently Over fraises du bois, "I'm so ashamed of being white.“ The lobster is delicious, The wine divine, And center of attention At the damask table, mine. To be a Problem on Park Avenue at eight Is not so bad. Solutions to the Problem, Of course, wait.  Langston Hughes

26 Langston Hughes: Published most of his work in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. He reflected his social concerns in his writings about injustice, war and race. He is widely acknowledged and praised all over the world as one of the great American writers of the 20th century. "Dinner Guest: Me" was first published in Negro Digest in September 1965 (the height of the black civil rights movement).

27 Bitter Strawberries All morning in the strawberry field They talked about the Russians. Squatted down between the rows We listened. We heard the head woman say, ‘Bomb them off the map.’ Horseflies buzzed, paused and stung. And the taste of strawberries Turned thick and sour. Mary said slowly, ‘I’ve got a fella Old enough to go. If anything should happen…’ The sky was high and blue. Two children laughed at tag In the tall grass, Leaping awkward and long-legged Across the rutted road.

28 The fields were full of bronzed young men Hoeing lettuce, weeding celery.
‘The draft is passed,’ the woman said. ‘We ought to have bombed them long ago.’ ‘Don’t,’ pleaded the little girl With blond braids. Her blue eyes swam with vague terror. She added petishly, ‘I can’t see why You’re always talking this way…’ ‘Oh, stop worrying, Nelda,’ Snapped the woman sharply. She stood up, a thin commanding figure In faded dungarees. Businesslike she asked us, ‘How many quarts?’ She recorded the total in her notebook, And we all turned back to picking. Kneeling over the rows, We reached among the leaves With quick practiced hands, Cupping the berry protectively before Snapping off the stem Between thumb and forefinger. Gwendolyn Brooks

29 Gwendolyn Brooks She was born in Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, on October 27, In early childhood, she lived in Winthrop on Massachusetts Bay. Left fatherless at age 8, she lived with her mother's parents and attended school in Winthrop and college at Wellesley. She later acknowledged uncertainty about her father through bee imagery in "Stings," "The Swarm," "The Bee Meeting," and other poems. After publishing the story "And Summer Will Not Come Again" in Seventeen magazine and the poem "Bitter Strawberries" in Christian Science Monitor in 1950 The poem was first published in 1950, when fear of Communist Russia was rampant in American.)

30 The Bean Eaters They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair. Dinner is a casual affair. Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,  Tin flatware. Two who are Mostly Good. Two who have lived their day, But keep on putting on their clothes And putting things away. And remembering Remembering, with twinklings and twinges, As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths, tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.  Gwendolyn Brooks

31 The Bean Eaters, Brooks’s third collection of poetry, was published in 1960, after she had already won the Pulitzer Prize and a number of other awards. In her first two collections, Brooks explored everyday African American life through subjects like home, family, war, racism, and poverty, while melding colloquial speech with formal diction. In The Bean Eaters, Brooks continued to investigate these same interests, drawing heavily on Chicago’s south-side neighborhood of Bronzeville. However, the book was written during the early years of the Civil Rights movement, during which the Brooks's interest in social issues deepened and found expression in her work. In The Bean Eaters, she employs free verse and refuses to shy away from topics such as educational integration and lynching.

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