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The Invention of the OralPrint Commerce and Fugitive Voices in Eighteenth-Century Britain$
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Paula McDowell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226456966

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226457017.001.0001

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How to Speak Well in Public: The Elocution Movement Begins in Earnest

How to Speak Well in Public: The Elocution Movement Begins in Earnest

Chapter:
(p.162) Chapter Five How to Speak Well in Public: The Elocution Movement Begins in Earnest
Source:
The Invention of the Oral
Author(s):

Paula McDowell

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226457017.003.0006

This chapter examines English contributors to the elocution movement after John Henley, as well as their French precursor Michel le Faucheur. After the Toleration Act granted freedom of worship to Protestant Dissenters, Anglicans argued that their clergy needed to pay greater attention to the oral delivery of their sermons, or they would lose audiences to charismatic Dissenting preachers. Anglicans debated the use of action (gesture) in the pulpit, and they critiqued Methodist preachers for their use of gesture and media-savvy use of print. The chapter considers the later eighteenth-century transformation of the elocution movement. While Thomas Sheridan is now often assumed to be the founder of the movement, this chapter shows how Sheridan took over where Henley left off. After Henley died, Sheridan delivered lectures on elocution, then published them as A Course of Lectures on Elocution. Sheridan expanded Henley's market for public speaking by tying it to the cause of nationalism, and unlike Henley, he praised speech at the expense of writing and print. Indebted to the elocutionists' legacy, clergyman and rhetorician Hugh Blair introduced the new elocution-focused rhetoric to Scottish universities, yet he warned against the new public debating societies, which he viewed as fomenting social disorder.

Keywords:   action in rhetoric, Hugh Blair, debating societies, Dissenters, elocution, English language, gesture, preachers, public speaking, Thomas Sheridan

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