Accueil > Performative eloquence


Type d'enseignement : Workshop

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


A strong level of English, and desire to explore varied aspects of oral communication with originality and open-mindedness.

Course Description

Performativity is not first and foremost about meaning ; it's about force and effort. This Artistic Workshop will strive to understand and develop skill-sets – written, spoken, performed- in order to become eloquent. Merriam-Webster defines eloquence as « the ability to speak or write well and in an effective way. » In addition, for our purposes eloquence is the art of such discourse, and must be marked by force and persuasiveness. Besides the very practical, pragmatic practice of oral communication tools regarding the structure and delivery of speech acts, students will also think about and try out exercises in vocal beauty or emphasis, along with exploring the use of the body, eye contact, or the use of silence, as means for communicating one's truthfulness or sincerity, where desired. Creating truly performative speech acts will be difficult to measure. This is because performativity is both about delivery (so the observable skills in speech-making), but is also about how the speech act influences or changes perceptions and future actions of the listener. So, the key is to grasp how the speech act is performing on the thought patterns on the listener/audience. With this in mind, students need to conceive of the necessary active participation in workshops as both the work of making speeches, but just as importantly, in the act of listening, so as to help identify when and how a speech acts on you, the listener, which will enable the group then to name those things that create the perceived eloquence. The technical qualities observed are necessary, but so also will be the more artistic, subtle, sometimes highly personal reality-creation dimensions. This thing done to and experienced by listeners as a result of the audition of a speech will need explanation, and in so doing, we'll help to explain the level and effectiveness of one's performativity.


LYNDAKER, Ronald (Coordinator for language studies at Sciences Po)

Pedagogical format

Students will need to demonstrate a readiness to complete in-class exercises with determination and enthusiasm so as to fully explore potentially new manners and habits for producing performative speech acts. There will be some lecture time devoted to introducing concepts that prepare written and oral student productions. There will be discussions and analyses of written/oral speeches, including both historic speeches and inclass productions.

Course validation

Evaluation is based on a global assessment of the personal engagement/motivation of the student and the quality of his productions (written/oral) in class. Grades will be attributed in letter-grade tradition : A=excellent B=very good C=good D=satisfactory E=passing F=failing

Required reading

  • Excerpts will be varied from scholarly articles to poems, speeches (example source :
  • Readings of a number of historic speeches, to be announced (example source :
  • How to Say It with Your Voice, by Jeffery Jacobi, Prentice Hall, 2000
  • How to Read a Poem, by Edward Hirsch, Harcourt Inc, 1999