TAMIU Fall Course Explores Tradition of Public Speech

A new course this Fall at Texas A&M International University will examine when and why people enjoy public debate.

Dr. Per Fjelstad, Assistant Professor of Speech, will lead the course, SPCH 3330 "American Public Address, " scheduled to meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6:15 p.m.

"People once went to hear speech performances," Dr. Fjelstad said, "like we go see to football games."

"In 1787, for instance," Fjelstad said, "Virginians jammed their convention center to hear Patrick Henry and James Madison disagree about the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution."

"Prior to the Civil War," Fjelstad continued, "thousands of people from the North and South travelled by horse, camped out for days, and were quiet enough to hear Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas speak--without microphones--about the moral commitments of the Republican party."

"And here in Laredo, in 1839," he added, "people cheered, rang church bells, and filled the streets for eight hours in response to a decision reached at a public meeting: they had declared themselves independent from Mexico. Something happened in the speeches of Jose Maria Ramon, Franciso de la Garza, Agustin Soto, and Tomas Flores that started a huge celebration."

According to Fjelstad, participants in the upcoming course will study speeches from the country's great oral tradition. These will be famous performances by Patrick Henry, Susan B. Anthony, Barbara Jordan, Ronald Reagan, and others.

Participants also will read critical essays that examine how the environment for public communication is changing: what impact, for example, has television had on the ways people respond to messages and performances?

Finally, participants will report on events and advertisements from the U.S. presidential campaign that will be going on during the semester.

"Perhaps we will see some fireworks," said Dr. Fjelstad. "At the very least," he continued, "we will be able to explain why messages fizzled, if that's what they do."

Fjelstad holds his Ph.D. in Speech Communication from The Pennsylvania State University. His M.A. is from the University of Washington and his B.A. from The Evergreen State College.

For more information about the course, SPCH 3330, contact Dr. Per Fjelstad at 325-2627 or by email at pfjelstad@tamiu.edu.

Fall Semester Registration at TAMIU will be held Aug. 21-22 from 1-7 p.m.

Fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 26.

For additional registration information, contact the Office of the Registrar at 326 - 2250. TAMIU office hours are from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Information can also be secured by email at enroll@tamiu.edu or by visiting the University's Home Page on the World Wide Web, http://www.tamiu.edu.