A rhetorical digital humanities project of the "Fill Up the Jails" public speech

Pedagogy

The vMLK project enables a deeper consideration and understanding of the very nature of public address as experience. Working with faculty in the Department of Communication, we are pleased to offer a set of assignments and curricular suggestions for how to incorporate the vMLK Project into classroom instruction.

MLK’s speeches are often studied as models for achieving rhetorical transformation (in beliefs, understanding, and action), but students have largely been unable to explore the embodied qualities of the rhetorical situation (e.g., what it was like to experience a speech as an audience member, to hear a speech from various positions and with varying degrees of aural quality, and so on). This aspect of rhetorical theory and practice—the ephemeral moment when just the right speaker speaks just the right words in just the right location to an audience that is capable of understanding and acting on those words at an opportune moment in history — is captured by the Greek concept of kairos.  And the opportunity to learn and interrogate this quality through embodied experience enables a deeper consideration and understanding of the very nature of public address, its promises and potentialities.  Additionally, while speeches are grounded in writing, they come to life through voice, body, and audience.

While the “Fill Up the Jails” re-enactment recordings are well suited to use in public speaking and public address/history of rhetoric courses, they can also be used to assist pedagogy in a variety of other classes. Below are some ideas that teachers have suggested for how this technological tool can be implemented.

Curricula Resources

Public Speaking

Forthcoming Resources

Visual Rhetoric
Communication Ethics
Rhetorical Theory / Rhetorical Criticism
Rhetoric and Digital Media
History of American Public Address
Cultural Studies
Pedagogy and Technology