By Carolyn Eastman
Within the many years after the yankee Revolution, population of the us started to form a brand new nationwide identification. Telling the tale of this messy but formative method, Carolyn Eastman argues that standard women and men gave intending to American nationhood and nationwide belonging via first studying to visualize themselves as individuals of a shared public.She finds that the production of this American public—which in simple terms progressively constructed nationalistic qualities—took position as women and men engaged with oratory and print media not just as readers and listeners but in addition as writers and audio system. Eastman paints brilliant snap shots of the arenas the place this engagement performed out, from the colleges that prompt childrens in elocution to the debating societies, newspapers, and presses during which varied teams jostled to outline themselves—sometimes opposed to one another. Demonstrating the formerly unrecognized quantity to which nonelites participated within the formation of our rules approximately politics, manners, and gender and race family, A country of Speechifiers presents an extraordinary family tree of early American id.
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Extra resources for A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution
Rich and poor, rural and urban, North, South and West—across the board, Americans clearly believed that children’s oral declamation revealed whether educational standards had been met. Elocutionary experience in such public settings taught children skills they could not glean otherwise. Demosthenes in Americaâ•… ) 31 Individual exhibitions varied widely in length and frequency, but they all drew a broad cross section of the community as audience. The “visiting committee” of examiners usually consisted of prominent men from the area, often ministers or, if possible, college-educated figures.
In contrast, an accomplished speaker who also knew how to deploy elocutionary criticism could earn a high classroom position and Mr. Spalding’s respect. 42 The teacher’s praise and manner promised that one might attain esteem via good speech and proper conduct outside the classroom as well. The Anglo-American elocution movement had a profound effect on the postrevolutionary United States by helping to create an element of uniformity in a radically decentralized educational environment. Whereas colonial schools had merely taught children to read and cipher, the postwar emphasis on elocution turned reading into a skill that reflected one’s character.
25 Elocution taught its adherents that persuasion rested on close attention to listeners and that good speakers altered their approach if their audiences seemed to require it. Above all, it sought to reform the relationship between speakers and auditors and to create a more engaged bond between them. The “elocution revolution” sought to transform the speech of all citizens, not merely the elite. James Burgh, who served as the headmaster of a British boys’ school, argued that proper speaking was necessary for men of many trades and professions whose livelihoods relied on the estimation of their peers; others saw it as a model of public deliberation translatable to informal settings, even mundane conversations.
A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution by Carolyn Eastman