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In addition to delivering three speeches throughout the semester, students practice impromptu speaking, analyze famous speeches, and write their own.“I think because our class is a practicum, we practice the craft.
“I feel like music and poetry and spoken word are all just different types of storytelling, different ways to convey your ideas,” Boyland said.
At the heart of it, these students and professors see rhetoric as a means of creative expression.
Although some argue that advanced technologies and social media are beginning to replace face-to-face conversation, many students at Harvard still see the ancient art form of spoken rhetoric as worth pursuing, both inside and outside the classroom.
Expos 40 may be an anomaly in the undergraduate course catalogue, but at the Kennedy School, the Business School, and the Graduate School of Education, rhetoric courses are much more available.
One such course, on offer at all three schools, is “The Arts of Communication.” Timothy P. Cohen, who holds a faculty appointment at the Harvard Extension School, where he teaches “Oral Communication In the Workplace,” splits spoken rhetoric into two components.
Mc Carthy ’93, an Adjunct Lecturer on public policy at the Kennedy School, teaches six sections of the course this semester. “On a basic level, there’s what you say and how you say it.
Other students say that they’ve seen the gap in their education when they leave Harvard to pursue jobs and internships. “So I was in front of all these executives, thousands of people, and I completely froze on speech.” Dias-Jayasinghe knew that public speaking was a skill that she wanted to work on.
Dias-Jayasinghe recalls a public speaking opportunity at her internship last summer at Wal-Mart as the “most embarrassing moment of my life.” “I was asked to M. In fact, she’d been trying to lottery into Expos 40 since the second semester of her freshman year.
“Public speaking is such an everyday skill,” he said.
Paul Lisker ’17, another former student of Expos 40, said that students in almost any field need public speaking skills to prepare themselves for life after college.