Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication

First Advisor

Richard (Benjamin) Crosby


When comparing the ancient and modern pedagogies of speech and speech delivery, discrepancies begin to emerge. The significance of delivery in today’s speech pedagogy, for instance, is minimal, which is perhaps most evident in the foundational public speaking course (basic course) textbook. As my thesis demonstrates, speech composition receives far more consideration than speech performance, which marginalizes the canon of delivery as inferior to both rhetoric and speech communication. Supporting this notion is McClish (2016), who argues that while delivery remains germane to contemporary public speaking pedagogy, its treatment in the twenty-first-century basic course is widely understated. Moreover, McClish (2016) argues that, “contemporary speech pedagogy strives to communicate the importance of delivery to oratorical activity, but not its essential role in establishing extraordinary speech or eloquence” (p. 174). Eloquence, according to Emerson (1904), “…is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak” (p. 130).

Unlike Aristotle’s other rhetorical canons (invention, arrangement, style, and memory), delivery is presented as a formality to speech, but not a skill worth mastering. By under emphasizing the role of delivery in public oration, textbook authors and editors are doing a disservice to instructors, students, and the discipline. I argue that by reevaluating delivery’s role in course textbooks and the field of rhetoric, the foundational public speaking course will produce more persuasive and captivating public speakers. However, as my research shows, the textbook is not the only example of delivery’s overshadowing. Animosities against delivery emerged thousands of years prior to this thesis. To begin my argument, I first turn to the current structuring of the basic communication course.

Keywords: basic course, rhetoric, delivery, genre, textbooks, persuasion, public speaking


Copyright Owner

Caleb B. Evers



File Format


File Size

81 pages