The Crisis of Rhetoric: Renewing Political Speech and Speechwriting

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: History and Cultures

Abstract

The British public distrust politicians and the way they talk. Surveys show not only that the public think politicians are liars who do not share their best interests, but also that their speech alienates citizens from their politicians and from politics. This is one reason that many people are attracted to new kinds of 'populist' politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage: they seem to speak to the people and make their case in a seemingly straightforward, every-day and 'authentic' way. At the same time, political argument in the UK has become more sectarian and angry and the 2016 EU referendum campaign was marred by the misuse of statistics on all sides, misleading inferences and hard-to-verify claims. We think that this is a problem. A people needs to be able to debate and argue well about the political challenges it faces, and an effective government must be able to win the respect of a public and ensure that it understands something of what government is doing and why. British Politics may never have the kind of 'inspirational' speech we associate with some American politicians but it can and should have speech that please, proves and persuades (as ancient Greek and Roman rhetoricians and orators advised).

We see contemporary British politics as experiencing a crisis of rhetoric - that is, a crisis of the ancient art of political argument and oratory. The network we will bring together for this project will combine and consolidate the best research into political rhetoric: studies of ancient Greece and Rome (where many rhetorical techniques still used today were studied and systematised), historical studies of UK politics, contemporary political theory, media studies, and linguistics. The network will also build on PI's and Co-I's existing links in the political community (politicians, speechwriters and political journalists) to engage these groups in discussion about the current state of political oratory and rhetoric in the UK. Together we can understand and help remedy the crisis of British political speech.

In the first workshop political speechwriters, politicians and journalists will explain their views of current British political speech. From them, academic researchers will learn more about the challenges faced when political actors try to explain themselves accurately, clearly and fairly while also being persuasive. These insights will directly inform the discussions in the following workshops.

The second workshop explores the various concepts different scholars use when researching rhetoric in order to understand how best to combine the insights of our different fields, to think clearly about the state of speech in our current political culture, and to communicate these insights to the practitioners.

The third workshop looks at the ways in which, through rhetoric, political actors try to create a sense of identification, trust and respect between them and their (potential) supporters. This discussion compares practices of different historical periods with British political speech today.

A fourth workshop focuses on the ways in which - in the complex, contested and public contexts of politics - politicians and other political debaters present reasons for thinking in a certain way and try to get others to share them. The comparative historical perspective from workshop three will again be applied to highlight what is distinctive about current political practice.

A fifth workshop centres on the influence of media on the shape and experience of political argument, and the ways in which old and new media are a challenge to, and an opportunity for improving, our culture of debate.

The final workshop presents findings to practitioners. Their comments will feed directly into the outputs of the network, including a report with practical suggestions for the media, politicians and the public for improving our culture of reasoned and persuasive public debate.

Planned Impact

The network will have impact on three main groups: politicians at national, regional and local level; political advisers and civil servants involved in speechwriting; journalists, political reporters, and media organisations reporting on political activity or staging public political debates. That impact will consist of an enhancement of understanding and, we hope, help change attitudes by informing practitioners and increasing their awareness of empirical, critical and normative research into rhetoric. This will in turn enhance their professional capability. In addition, we aim to have an impact on public understanding of and discussion about the nature and qualities of public political speech and debate.

PI and Co-I already have links with the political community (politicians, speechwriters and political journalists) through their respective research networks. We know from these links that there is great interest in the political community in reflecting upon rhetorical activity and in using and learning from academic knowledge and understanding. In order to involve these in the network, a 'user group' will have direct and continued involvement with the network throughout the project. This group will feed into the planning of the workshops, discussions and outputs. They will be centrally involved in the first workshop where they will be invited to share their knowledge and experience of current speech practices and to reflect on the crisis of rhetoric. This will inform the more academic discussions on aspects of the crisis of rhetoric at workshops 2-5. The user group will participate directly in these or indirectly through feedback in response to interim findings communicated via email and the website. In the final workshop, the sixth, the user group will be invited to engage in the concluding discussion of the network's findings and to advise on how we can best communicate these to other potential beneficiaries. This will inform our design of outputs aimed at non-academic audiences. In addition to the direct involvement of users in the network we will also seek to reach our target audiences via the project outputs.

Firstly, we will produce and make available for free download from the project website a report summarising our findings and making recommendations to practitioners. The report will be launched at an event in Parliament to which we will invite our user group, politicians from all parties, political advisers, political reporters and members of think tanks. We will use the launch as an opportunity to extend our reach into the user community and also to publicise the findings through press releases from media offices of the home institutions of the PI and Co-I. We will actively seek opportunities to publicise the report by, for example, articles in newspapers and radio broadcasts (Co-I has prior experience).

Secondly, the PI and Co-I (advised by the project team and user group) will write a short book aimed at a public audience. This book will describe and explain the crisis of political communication and present, in an accessible way, how this might be understood in light of classical rhetoric and contemporary political theory and political science. The book will be aimed at a wider audience than is usual for academic work with the goal of enabling reflection on the quality of our rhetorical culture by, for example, members of political parties at local and regional levels, other activists and interested members of the public.

In these ways, the network will enable academic engagement with non-academic audiences involved in making and circulating political speech. Our work will contribute to the enrichment of rhetorical culture, improve public understanding and discussion of good public speech, and foster a better informed and better understood approach to public political debate.

Publications

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Finlayson A (2019) 7. Rethinking Political Communication in The Political Quarterly

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H. Van Der Blom (2019) Booklet summarising research findings

 
Description The most significant achievements from the awards were:

1. The creation of a sustainable interdisciplinary network of UK and international scholars concerned with the history, theory, analysis and practice of political speech. Since there are no Rhetoric Departments at UK universities (as opposed to in North American and some continental European universities), rhetoric scholars tend to work in isolation in departments of Classics, History, English, Linguistics, Philosophy, Politics, Media Studies and beyond. As part of the project events, we developed common ground and a shared vocabulary around public speech/rhetoric/oratory through discussion with rhetoric researchers from all these disciplines working on different historical periods (from Ancient Greece and Rome, over the Middle Ages, through early-modern and modern periods up to the 21st century). Through project events, presentations at external events, social media presence and publications, we promoted the project as well as UK rhetoric research within the international rhetoric community.

Crucially, the network connects not only disparate rhetoric scholars, but also political speech practitioners in politics, government and speechwriting (see Narrative Impact section), with both short-term and long-term beneficial effects: connections between academic and practitioners ensures that academic research is grounded in real-world frameworks and situations, that practitioners can enhance their professional understanding of their speechwriting practice through academic research findings, and that we together can understand and positively influence the practice of political speech and communication, which is vital to our modern democracy.

The network continues: for example, the Co-I is running a student speech competition with the Political Studies Association and former speechwriter/current political journalist Philip Collins is acting as judge (https://www.psa.ac.uk/political-speech-competition), and we have plans for further collaborations and impact activities arising from the connections made in the project.

2. The collation and publication of project research findings into a stakeholder-facing booklet and launching it at public event at the House of Lords (participation by a substantial number of non-academic stakeholders). The booklet summarises the project findings regarding the challenges faced by political speakers and speechwriters in the UK today and offers recommendations for ways to deal with these challenges. These recommendations are based on discussions at project events, but also on PI and Co-I expertise, individually and in collaboration. For example, we make recommendations of applying ancient and modern rhetorical theory to the creation of contemporary political speeches, and of ways to make best use of speechwriters and supporting them in their work. As of 20 February 2020, 128 people have downloaded the booklet from the project website: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-artslaw/caha/cor/crisis-of-rhetoric-report.pdf. We have handed out/sent out in excess of 500 hard copy booklets to stakeholders across the UK (and some even reaching political speechwriters abroad, e.g. in Denmark).

The award objectives were met:

1. The network development objectives were met: we set up the planned network (please see above), developed a shared vocabulary, consolidated rhetoric research in the UK, promoted UK rhetoric research abroad (at conferences and other events), connected academic UK rhetoric scholars with rhetorical practitioners in politics, government and speechwriting at all our project events, and laid the basis for future research collaboration and outputs (for ourselves and others in the network and beyond; please see below for our plans).

2. The intellectual development objectives were met: through our discussions in project events, we developed understanding of the difficulties faced by political speakers and speechwriters in the UK, applied rhetorical concepts and methods to the critical study of media rhetoric in British politics (at and beyond a dedicated workshop on 'Media Rhetoric'), and applied ancient and modern rhetorical theory and analysis to the interpretation and assessment of examples of contemporary political speech.

3. The impact objectives were met: we identified and produced a short report a) on the problems and opportunities in the training of political speechwriters and speechmakers; b) making recommendations for the improvement of speechwriting and speechmaking in order to contribute positively to democratic political culture; c) making recommendations to journalists concerning the reporting of political speech and rhetoric and concerning the staging of mediated political debate; d) outlining the project findings to enable further engagement with speechmakers. This report was launched at a public event at the House of Lords (please see above). We have begun drafting an accessible and engaging public-facing book which enlarges our project findings and shares classical and contemporary understandings of rhetoric and which promotes the good creation, delivery and reception of political speech. In addition to planned impact objectives, one of the project events (workshop on 'Media Rhetoric') was used in a BBC World Service radio programme (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswrkl). Please also see the list of 'Engagement activities' for further such engagements.

All participants in project events, whether academics (from the wide range of disciplines mentioned above), political speech practitioners (speechwriters, politicians and their aides, political journalists), and members of the general public, told us that they learnt something new about rhetoric and public speech and that the interdisciplinary and cross-sector nature of the events facilitated new ideas and understandings.
Exploitation Route The research findings can be taken forward in a number of ways:

1. We hope to pick up the impact possibilities directly arising from the project, and possibly applying for a follow-on grant. These possibilities range from engaging school pupils in analysing political speech, engaging political speech recorders and reporters in discussion into best practices of recording and reporting on political speech for the benefit of present and future audiences and therefore for the benefit of democracy, training speechwriters to use more rhetorical theory (especially ancient rhetorical theory) in their practice, and collaborating with artists in producing podcasts about historical speeches which made a societal difference.

2. Any member of the research network and beyond can use the connections created to set up new collaborations (academic and cross-sector) to produce new insights and new research.

3. We hope that speechwriters reading our project findings booklet will take our recommendations to heart and thereby help to create a better quality of contemporary political speech.

Our academic view that research into political speech needs input from both rhetoric scholars and speech practitioners was confirmed in the project and from the feedback we received from project event participants and the various invitations to contribute to newspapers, radio programmes, political/intellectual blogs and magazines and festivals.

Politics needs people who can communicate their ideas through the right language, voice and argument. Although modern media have changed the channels through which political messages are communicated, politicians today still must use the same rhetorical appeals, devices and strategies as their ancient counterparts. A people can only decide on who should rule and which policies to implement by hearing about them, and rhetoric can facilitate this by giving people reasons to think or do something. By enhancing the quality of political rhetoric, the public can share opinions and think for themselves and politicians can debate ideas and policies to better serve our democracy for the betterment of our society. This is the ultimate aim of our overall academic endeavour, and the project on the Crisis of Rhetoric has provided a significant step towards this aim.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/cor
 
Description The project finished on 30 November 2019; therefore, some impact from the project overall may still be forthcoming. Nevertheless, the project has already had impact through its development of a rhetoric community within the UK, which brings together academics and practitioners: Crucially, our project has opened up the communication between political speech practitioners (speechwriters, politicians, political journalists) and academics working on political speech and rhetoric. The project has connected these two constituent groups, facilitated new interactions between practitioners and academics, enhanced professional understanding both ways, and laid the foundation for future collaborations with societal benefits. In particular, the connection with speechwriters, who often act as both political advisers and advocates for good speechmaking, has been significant for our impact on practitioners. Among the 120+ participants in the project events (as well as 64 attendants at the launch event), are 24 practitioners, who are on the network mailing list and have said that they would like to continue to be involved. We plan to use these emerging connections to develop impact activities with benefit to society at various levels (please see 'Key findings', the section on the ways in which the research can be taken forward). In addition to event participants, we have reached a wide audience of practitioners through a targeted LinkedIn campaign. The campaign is directed at speechwriters and related staff in the civil service, British political parties (national and regional offices), the European Parliament, and in public affairs and communications agencies and businesses. As of 19 February 2020, the video advertising the project findings has been viewed by 11,500 individuals, ca. 200 have clicked through to the project findings booklet, and 128 have downloaded it (as of 20 February 2020). In addition, we have handed out/sent out in excess of 500 hardcover booklets to a range of stakeholders. Finally, the project has led to a string of invitations to speak about, comment on and address aspects of public speech; please see the list of 'Engagement activities'. Apart from the project events, these activities were invitations directly arising from the public profile of our project. Since March 2020, booklets have been distributed locally, in Norwich, where the MP subsequently invited the Co-I to deliver a workshop on rhetoric and speechwriting to his staff.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Cambridge History of Rhetoric volume 1: Rhetoric of the Ancient World (to c.350 CE) 
Organisation Rice University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As a direct result of the networking activities of the project, Principal Investigator van der Blom was invited by leading rhetoric researchers (Professor Rita Copeland in the Middle Ages and Professor Peter Mack in the early modern period) to act as co-editor of volume 1 of the forthcoming landmark 5-volume Cambridge History of Rhetoric, covering all rhetoric from 3500 BC to today. Van der Blom is responsible for all Latin/Roman rhetoric and oratory in the volume and collaborates closely with Professor Harvey Yunis (Rice University) who is responsible for all Greek rhetoric and oratory in the volume. The Crisis of Rhetoric project put van der Blom in the spotlight as a candidate for this co-editorship.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Yunis and van der Blom have together commissioned 28 contributors to the volume, entered into detailed discussions of the direction of the volume and the necessary chapters, and will co-author the Introduction and a final chapter, single-author each a chapter, as well as co-edit all the contributions.
Impact Multi-disciplinary, planned publication in 2022.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Address to European Speechwriter Network Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Co-I (Finlayson) addressed the European Speechwriter Network Conference - an audience of 80-100 speechwriters from the public and private sector across Europe. He talked about some aspects of the project and about the importance of good speech for democratic politics. Attendees said they found the presentation helpful and interesting and that it inspired to them to think about the political value of their work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/europeanspeechwriters/episodes/2018-04-17T14_54_39-07_00
 
Description Address to The English Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An address to The English Association, at their colloquium "English in the World 1: From the Outside". The talk concerned research and teaching in Rhetoric, and the relationship between these and English Studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/events/conferences/english-world-1-outside
 
Description Hay Festival talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 295 registered (and paying) audience members to talk at Hay Festival 2019 on 'The art of political rhetoric: antiquity and today', 28 May 2019. The talk sparked many questions and could be viewed on the Hay Player, Hay Festival's dedicated video channel.

URLs associated:
https://www.hayfestival.com/p-15355-henriette-van-der-blom.aspxl
https://www.hayfestival.com/wales/blog.aspx?post=820
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.hayfestival.com/p-15355-henriette-van-der-blom.aspx
 
Description Interview for BBC radio programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator were interviewed for a BBC World Service radio series called 'The Why Factor' for a programme on 'Rhetoric' to provide expert knowledge about rhetoric in general and about ancient rhetoric and current political speech.

As a BBC World Service programme, this activity has the potential for a very large reach, although it is difficult to predict precise reach and precise impact in the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/w3cswrkl
 
Description Interview with Index on Censorship for their regular magazine. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Interviewed on aspects of modern political speech which intersected with the interests of Index on Censorship: trust, censorship, freedom of speech.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Interviewed by journalist from The Guardian newspaper to get insights into the changing parliamentary rhetoric of Brexit for a feature in the newspaper. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact As above.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Lunchtime Discussion Meeting with the Institute of Public Policy Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A presentation with Q&A about how the think tank might reflect on and learn about rhetoric and politics. There was widespread discussion of the nature of rhetoric and argument and the qualities (or lack thereof) of politicians today. There was also discussion of the importance of online spaces, how platforms such as YouTube are creating new kinds or genres of rhetoric and how this is affecting politics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Media Contribution (to discussion of Leaders' TV Debates) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Regional radio sought expert comment on the upcoming election debates (between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn) drawing on the findings of the research project (and particularly the recommendations made concerning leaders debates). The Co-I was interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk news and on BBC Radio London about the value of the debates, what to expect and what to hope for and what might be the way to address our 'Crisis of Rhetoric'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Overlapping Methodologies? English Studies and the Social World by Alan Finlayson, UEA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An article for the website of The English Association (for school and university teachers of English and those with related interests) talking about the place of rhetoric in the academy and in relation to English in particular.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participation on Panel for "Behind the Headlines: History, Hope and the Political Speech" Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute, Dublin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participation in a panel on political speech, part of the series of public events 'Behind the Headlines' organised by Trinity College Dublin. Several hundred attended the online event (from UK, Ireland, America) which involved intense discussion on the rights and wrongs of rhetoric, the changing nature of the political speech and how digital media have affected political rhetoric. Findings from research projects were discussed, a project report/booklet disseminated. This sparked lively informative discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.tcd.ie/trinitylongroomhub/whats-on/details/event.php?eventid=150814384
 
Description Podcast of Public Lecture - "The Changing Rhetorical Culture of British Politics: From Parliament and PEBs to Twitter and Youtube" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The activity is the downloadable podcast of the public lecture "The Changing Rhetorical Culture of British Politics: From Parliament and PEBs to Twitter and Youtube" was delivered as the inaugural lecture of the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life at Birkbeck College, University of London. The lecture discussed a wide range of aspects of British political and rhetorical culture, past and present, focusing in particular on the decline in rhetorical culture in the 20th century and the ways in which, in the 21st, online rhetorics have come to the fore. The attendance was around 100, the lecture lasted for about 50 minutes and there was lively discussion and debate for another 70-80 minutes. Attendees described the evening as very informative and thought-provoking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2018/11/alan-finlayson-the-changing-rhetorical-culture-of-british-p...
 
Description Podcast with 'Better Known' series of podcasts, including discussion of ancient oratory and crisis of rhetoric 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited to be interviewed for the 'Better Known' podcasts where interviewee argue why 6 neglected topic should be better known and why 1 overexposed topic would be better neglected. Focused on ancient oratory and rhetoric, with the example of Julius Caesar, and also included mention of modern political speech deriving from Crisis of Rhetoric project. The invitation was a direct result of workshop 6 of Crisis of Rhetoric, information about which was picked up by Better Known podcast editor.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://better-known.zencast.website/episodes/71
 
Description Public Launch of Crisis of Rhetoric research project findings, House of Lords 15 October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 64 registered participants to launch event of Crisis of Rhetoric research findings, featuring talks by PI Henriette van der Blom, Co-I Alan Finlayson and respondents Phil Collins (journalist at The Times, former speechwriter to PM Tony Blair) and Mary Beard (Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, and TV/radio presenter of programmes on the ancient world and on wider culture). The presentations sparked a lively discussion among participants who included parliamentary and governmental speechwriters, other professional speechwriters, parliamentary civil servants, academics, and members of the public. Informal feedback at the event and substantial social media activity suggested impact of our findings. The booklet summarising the findings is mailed out to project participants, speechwriters, politicians (Lords and MPs), journalists and academics with particular interest in political speech.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/networkfororatoryandpolitics/cor/events.aspx
 
Description Public Lecture - "The Changing Rhetorical Culture of British Politics: From Parliament and PEBs to Twitter and Youtube" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The public lecture "The Changing Rhetorical Culture of British Politics: From Parliament and PEBs to Twitter and Youtube" was delivered as the inaugural lecture of the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life at Birkbeck College, University of London. The lecture discussed a wide range of aspects of British political and rhetorical culture, past and present, focusing in particular on the decline in rhetorical culture in the 20th century and the ways in which, in the 21st, online rhetorics have come to the fore. The attendance was around 100, the lecture lasted for about 50 minutes and there was lively discussion and debate for another 70-80 minutes. Attendees described the evening as very informative and thought-provoking. The lecture was recorded and made available online. This is reported on separately.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.csbppl.com/events/the-changing-rhetorical-culture-of-british-politics-from-parliament-and...
 
Description Public Lecture: "Is there a crisis of rhetorical culture'? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A public lecture taking place as part of a series on the theme of "Crisis and Control" organised by the Philosophy Dept and supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy. The lecture took I themes from the research project and copies of the project research report/booklet were distributed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Rethinking Democracy: Launch with Andrew Gamble, Alan Finlayson, Jackie Harrison and Michael Jacobs. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A discussion and debate linked to the launch of the Rethinking Democracy issue of Political Quarterly which included an article by me drawing on research from the project. I talked about how digital media (and especially YouTube) are changing the nature of political rhetoric and this ideology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop (Glasgow) on 'Ethos and identification' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop 3: Ethos and identification. In this workshop, academics from a number of disciplines (Ancient History, Political Theory, Political Science, Modern Languages, Health) discussed a fundamental theme of rhetorical theory, namely 'ethos'. The aim was to share ideas and practices across disciplines and to reflect on the findings of workshops 1 and 2, in light of the current state of political speech in Britain and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/networkfororatoryandpolitics/cor/index.aspx
 
Description Workshop (Queen Mary University of London) on 'The state of political speech' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop 1: The State of Political Speech
The first workshop concerned the perspective of political speech practitioners on the state of political speech today. Speakers included a former MP, a political journalist and former speechwriter to PM Tony Blair, a speechwriter for a current government minister, a civil service speechwriter in the Houses of Parliament, professional (non-political) speechwriters, and a retired member of staff from Commons Hansard. The discussion was recorded in a summary on the project website and the findings fed into the following workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/networkfororatoryandpolitics/cor/index.aspx
 
Description Workshop (University of Birmingham) on 'Concepts' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop 2: Concepts. In this workshop, we aimed to strengthen the understanding across academic disciplines working on political speech while reflecting on workshop 1 and the current crisis of political speech. Speakers included academics from Linguistics, Political Theory, Classics and History.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/networkfororatoryandpolitics/cor/index.aspx
 
Description Workshop (University of Birmingham) on 'Reasons and reasoning' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop 4: Reasons and reasoning. In this workshop, we aimed to understand the use of logical argument in political speech by engaging academics from another wide field of disciplines: Classics, History, Modern Languages, Political Theory, Political Science, Rhetoric. We also reflected on the discussions in workshops 1-3 and the impact of project findings on the practitioners of political speech: politicians, speechwriters, political reporters and their audience(s).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/networkfororatoryandpolitics/cor/index.aspx
 
Description Workshop (University of East Anglia) on 'Media rhetoric' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Workshop 5: Media Rhetoric. This workshop saw participants from academic disciplines (Rhetoric, Political Theory, Classics, Media communication) and the media itself (BBC) discuss the ways in which modern mass media mediate political speech and political messages. We also reflected on the discussions in workshops 1-4 and considered ways in which to recommend good practice to political speechwriters and the people they write for.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/networkfororatoryandpolitics/cor/index.aspx
 
Description Youth Speakers Corner: Latitude Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact At the Latitude Festival, from 12th-15th July we delivered a number of workshops and talks on political speech, including "Youth Speakers Corner" sessions for young people - teaching them how to write a great speech and how to deliver it. Workshop numbers were small - 10-15, with larger audiences for the delivery of the final speeches. Participants said they found the work very interesting and that it had helped them think more deeply about how political speech works and about how to do it well.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.latitudefestival.com/news/tomorrows-world