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Words of Protest, Words of Inspiration: Famous Speeches: Home

I Have a Dream


  • Select a famous speech from the list to analyze. Please note that some famous but “overdone” speeches were deliberately not included on the list.
  • Analyze your chosen speech as an argument and write an essay about the writer’s effectiveness considering the context in which and audience to which they were delivered. Essays should identify and explain the rhetorical strategies that the author deliberately chose while crafting the text. What makes the speech so remarkable? How did the author's rhetoric evoke a response from the audience? Why are the words still venerated today?   
  • Stay focused on the speech as an argumentative text. There isn’t enough space in this essay to carefully detail every aspect of the historical context in which this speech falls.  It’s critical to know about the events that led up to the speech, so it is probably necessary to include pertinent details. However, it is not useful to list, for example, the specific events of the entire Revolutionary War that preceded George Washington’s Inaugural Speech.
  • Include content from multiple (2-3) secondary sources that effectively and actively support your thesis. You must have a Works Cited page in MLA format that includes the speech and additional sources.
  • Prepare an oral presentation that outlines the content and context of the speech and summarizes the main ideas in your essay.
  • Bring a copy of the speech to class on the days that are set aside for work days.  The final essay must be turned in—along with a clean, neat copy of the speech—on the date of your presentation (presentation dates/times will be distributed separately).