This introduction to rhetoric revolves around Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. Not only is this an unapologetic opportunity for students to have their first meaningful encounter with the Bard, because of its setting in ancient Rome (and the fact that Cicero is a character in the play) it fits nicely into the story of the development of rhetoric and oratory. In addition, the module takes extracts from Mark Forsyth’s The Elements of Eloquence, Sam Leith’s You Talkin’ To Me? and Jay Heinrichs’s Thank you for Arguing.

The module is divided into 5 sections, each focussing on one of the five acts of Julius Caesar and also on one of the five parts of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. In each section, students are introduced to a range of great speeches from literature and history including Satan’s monologue after being cast out of Heaven from Book 1 of Paradise Lost, Cicero’s condemnation of Cataline in the Senate, Mark Anthony’s funeral oration for Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech and Barack Obama’s ‘Audacity of hope’ speech.

The module has two main aims: that students should read, perform and enjoy Julius Caesar, and that they should be introduced to and experiment with different rhetorical forms. We recommend that the play is read rather than ‘studied’ and that the only scene to be analysed in detail is Act 3 scene 2 which contains both Brutus’s and Anthony’s funeral speeches.