American Eloquence: Language and Leadership in the Twentieth Century (Hardcover)

American Eloquence: Language and Leadership in the Twentieth Century By Roderick P. Hart Cover Image

American Eloquence: Language and Leadership in the Twentieth Century (Hardcover)


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What makes political speech powerful? How does eloquent rhetoric transcend ordinary language? Which stylistic choices allow effective orators to stir emotions and spur action? And in the age of Donald Trump, does political eloquence still matter?

This book examines a wide swath of political discourse to shed new light on the meaning and significance of eloquence. Roderick P. Hart, a leading scholar of political communication, develops new ways of measuring persuasiveness and rhetorical power through the use of computer-based methods. He examines one hundred of the most important speeches of the twentieth century, given by presidents and politicians as well as leaders, activists, and cultural figures including Martin Luther King Jr., Lou Gehrig, Mario Savio, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Stokely Carmichael.

Deploying the tools of the digital humanities as well as critical rhetorical analysis, Hart considers what distinguishes the linguistic properties of iconic oratory from those of more mundane texts. He argues that eloquence represents the confluence of cultural resonance, personal investment, and poetic imagination, providing empirical metrics for assessing each of these qualities. A quantitative and qualitative exploration of American political speech, this interdisciplinary book offers a powerful argument for why eloquence is essential for a functioning democracy.

Roderick P. Hart holds the Shivers Chair in Communication and is professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a fellow of the International Communication Association, a distinguished scholar of the National Communication Association, and the recipient of the Murray Edelman Career Award from the American Political Science Association. Hart is the author or editor of eighteen books, including most recently Trump and Us: What He Says and Why People Listen (2020) and Civic Hope: How Ordinary Americans Keep Democracy Alive (2018).
Product Details ISBN: 9780231209069
ISBN-10: 0231209061
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: January 24th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English