Rhiannon Dickerson/Discourse 200 Kansas City Cultural Exploration: Informative Speech

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Rhiannon Dickerson/Discourse 200

Kansas City Cultural Exploration: Informative Speech

What features make one culture distinct from another one? How are cultures and subcultures formed? How do we shape culture, and how does culture shape us? We’re exploring what cultures mean, and how they function; how they communicate with each other and with members of other cultures; how they define us, and how, at times, we resist them.

What makes Kansas City culture what it is?

For your first speech this term, you’ll choose an aspect of Kansas City subculture that you’re interested in, and that warrants further exploration. Your goal is to first define what culture means to you, how the topic you’ve chosen embodies what it means to be a Kansas Citian, and explore possible tensions within that community. How does this cultural group, or icon, shape KC? What attributes does this subculture embody?

The assigned topic is broad so that you should find something with which to relate, but narrow enough that a direction forward is clear. As always, you need to ensure that your topic is sufficiently narrow so that you can inform the audience in the 10 minute time allotted. We will celebrate the vibrant cultures of this city in these presentations, and you’ll become better acquainted with the city in which you live!

Concerns to address: As you prepare to teach the audience about your topic, keep in mind that the audience has a different frame of reference than you do, and that a good speaker tailors the message to the audience. This means you’ll need to approach this assignment as both a student and a teacher. You’re learning about the topic, but also teaching the audience, so keep these questions in mind as you begin the research process: What do we need to know to understand the relevance of your topic and to become interested in the topic? What background information is necessary to understand the topic? Why are you passionate about this topic? How can you connect this topic to the audience? What terminology needs to be defined? What types of supporting evidence will you include?

An essential component of this speech involves directly participating in the culture on which you focus. This means you’ll go to the museum, or the opera, or eat barbeque. Consider interviewing members of your cultural group, taking notes, documenting the experience to use as visual aids during the speech. An essential part of understanding any culture is engagement—participating in the culture you describe Go out. Explore. Engage. Interact. Ask questions.

Stay organized: Remember that speechmaking requires different strategies at times than writing requires. In your introduction, capture the audience’s attention; establish your credibility and stake in the topic; briefly map out the points you’ll discuss in the body of your speech. In the body, you will need to effectively define and contextualize the topic; sustain audience interest and inform us about the topic itself including thorough and consistent oral citations for all paraphrased and quoted material. Each claim you make must be supported by evidence: research, personal experience, expert testimony, etc. Build a balanced and engaging presentation by incorporating all of the rhetorical appeals and taking into consideration the needs of your audience. In the conclusion, you will remind the audience where we’ve been. Take advantage of the final moments of your speech: it is a moment of power; leave us with something that resonates.

Visual aids help clarify, examine, or reinforce concepts. When used effectively they will also capture the audience’s attention and should be constructed with the audience in mind--should be clear, visible and contain minimal amounts of written text. Any video or audio clips must be under one minute cumulatively.

Possible topics include, (but are certainly not limited to): geographical location, mid-western dialect, food, religion, political ideologies, queer culture, or KC cultural icons--Pendergast, Harry Truman, Walt Disney, Buck O’Neil, Negro League Baseball, KC Royals, Chiefs, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, the KC Jazz scene, KC Blues, BBQ culture war, Tech N9ne, city of fountains, 18th and Vine, Nelson-Atkins, Kauffman, Lyric Opera, Kansas City Ballet, Kemper Museum, Nerman Museum at JCCC, Blue Room, the emerging local craft breweries, and coffee roasters,


  • 8 consulted sources are required on your bibliography, and of that research, 6 sources must be cited during the speech. Connect with one of the many research librarians who will meet one-on-one to help with research strategies. You can sign-up for a research coaching session here: http://library.umkc.edu/signup

  • All speeches require a preparation outline with the main body points written in complete sentences. All research MUST be cited on your outline and orally in the speech. Failure to orally cite your research is plagiarism. Please discuss any questions or concerns you have on how to integrate oral citations into your speech.

  • You are permitted 1 notecard for your speech.

  • Speeches should be 10-11 minutes in length. Points will not be deducted for speeches within the 10-11 minute time frame.

  • Works Cited page must include all consulted and cited sources in MLA format.

Due Dates:

This assignment will address the following Discourse 200 Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand basic rhetorical concepts (audience, purpose, genre, convention, logos, ethos, pathos, logical fallacies, structure, etc.) and apply such concepts to the interpretation, analysis, and production of written and oral discourse.

  • Use written and oral discourse to develop and present meaningful and interesting ideas that show the students’ voice, a willingness to take intellectual risks, and an attempt to enter an academic conversation.

  • Create academic discourse through a basic process that includes editing, proofreading, and revising multiple drafts.

  • Interpret their own and others’ work and reflect on their own development as producers of discourse.

  • Construct basic research strategies, use appropriate research resources, learn to identify scholarly sources, and evaluate and cite those information sources.

  • Develop an introductory understanding of citation and an ability to appropriately cite sources using a consistent professional style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

  • Identify and address personal impediments to discourse production, including speech anxiety and writer’s block

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