Transatlantic Rhetoric: Public Speech and Anglo-American Writing 1750-1900 (Q3187)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

What is 'rhetoric' and why was it so important for literary life in nineteenth-century Britain and America? How can we begin to analyse public speaking as writing, and what is its relationship to literature in general?

You address these questions by exploring the cultural history of persuasive public speech between the American Revolution and the turn of the twentieth century, and the role it played in the development of literary expression.

Each week you look at a pair of one or more speeches from either side of the Atlantic, from across a range of genres including parliamentary oratory, radical political speechmaking, sermons, courtroom statements and comic lectures.

By training in the methods of rhetorical analysis you develop an understanding of how to comprehend the meanings and craft of public speech.

By placing speechmaking back into broader literary history, you begin to see rhetoric and voice as central themes in the history of Anglo-American writing.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: