Effective speech


You will answer questions based on the reading and use the reading to analyze an example of epideictic speech. The reading will also help as you make final preparations for the Criticism of Criticism speech of introduction.

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This lesson’s assignment has two parts. Please be sure to complete both parts in a single Word document and submit it to complete the assignment. Use and cite at least 3 scholarly sources from the Communication and Mass Media database at libraries.psu.edu (or from a similar scholarly database) to support your claims.

Part I: Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation in Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address

The assignment for this lesson gives you an opportunity to show your understanding of critical listening and of the method of rhetorical criticism that involves the concept of the rhetorical situation. Looking ahead to the Rhetorical Situation speech assignment, you will also report which speech you plan to analyze using this method.

Before viewing the speech, be sure to read Chapter 4 in your textbook on listening and thinking critically. The concepts and techniques described in the chapter will help you when listening to Reagan’s address. Review, also, Chapter 6; considering the purpose behind President Reagan’s speech will help you with your analysis.

In this essay, you will analyze Ronald Reagan’s “White House Address to the Nation,” popularly referred to as the Challenger address, in terms of the rhetorical situation. Your essay must address each element of the rhetorical situation to provide supporting evidence for your claims by drawing from the concepts in your book, from your own observations about the speech, and from what you find in the scholarly literature. Steven Mister’s article, an additional reading for this Lesson, should also be used in your argument. These outside sources will be particularly helpful in providing specific information about the audience, the historical context, the events, the president, and NASA.


All papers should be Word-processed and cited in the style you are most familiar with (such as APA, MLA, or Chicago). Your paper should be approximately 600–900 words, or two to three double-spaced pages, in Times New Roman;12-point font.

You must have a minimum of three scholarly sources, such as journal articles or scholarly books, for this paper (see an example that you can use for this assignment in the footnote below).1 In addition, you can use news magazines, such as Time or Newsweek, and newspaper articles for background and historical information. Sources that originate on the Internet are not acceptable. (This means that, if you have a source that was originally published in print but is available online, it is okay to use that source). Remember to take advantage of the Penn State University Libraries search engines. In particular, you may find the New York Times Historical and the ProQuest search engines helpful for this and many of your other assignments.

All papers must be free from typographical and spelling mistakes. Errors of grammar, syntax, and composition affect the assignment grade.

Please compose your essay and bibliography in a Word document and submit it as an attachment to the lesson drop box as a single document that includes Part II of this assignment.

Part II: Choosing a Topic for Your Rhetorical Analysis and Cultural Commonplaces Speaking Activities

For Part II, please indicate the topics for your two major speeches in this course. Please read the activity requirements so that you understand the specific expectations for each presentation.

The Rhetorical Situation speech will be a six- to eight-minute speech in which you analyze a speech according to the concepts of the rhetorical situation. This is an expanded version of the assignment you are doing for the Challenger address in this lesson. You may choose any speech (from such sources as American Rhetoric (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) that interests you and your audience, except for movie-speeches or speeches that are discussed elsewhere in the lessons for this course. You must be able to access a full-text version of the speech and, preferably, audio and/or video.

Please include

  • the name of the speech,
  • the name of the speaker,
  • the date the speech was given, and
  • where you found the text/audio/video online (providing the link or URL).

The Cultural Commonplaces speech will be a six- to eight-minute speech in which you analyze a cultural artifact according to the critical methods developed later in this course. This is an expanded version of the assignment you are doing in Lesson 8. Your artifact should be something that the audience can recognize and engage with. Examples of artifacts for this speech include (but are not limited to) pieces of art, advertisements (print, radio, television, Internet, billboards), television shows, movies, books, short stories, poetry, commercial products, monuments, video games, music, music videos, religious artifacts, and sports. This list is not exhaustive, and you can propose something not listed above that you feel strongly about.

Keep in Mind…

  • Please compose proposals in a Word document and submit it as a single-document, file upload that includes Part I of this assignment.
  • Note that the assignment has two parts: analyzing a speech and picking topics for the Midterm and Final speeches.
  • For Part I, pay particular attention to the first two sentences in the section on The Rhetorical Situation—use the framework of the theory to explain whether the speech was a fitting response.
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