Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem: Rhetoric, Identity & Embodiment

with Brenda Jo Brueggemann
Thursday, May 6, 2021 Thursday, May 13, 2021
4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Applications & nominations are closed.
Deadline: April 13.

The inauguration of a US president has always been an important rhetorical event for America. On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman electrified the world with her passionate delivery of her poem “The Hill We Climb.” In this master class, we’ll explore the rhetorical, aesthetic, and performative aspects of that moment. We’ll note how Gorman situates the poem amongst past inaugural poems, and how she places it firmly in the present. We’ll examine her use of expected, familiar metaphors, as well as ones that are fresh and strange. We’ll study her embodied delivery, her emphatic gestures, her embrace of difference (including speech difference), and her yellow coat, all of which will lead us to a broader, deeper understanding of the power of rhetoric.  

This is a two-session master class. In the first session, teachers learn from the master. In the second, participants have a rare and valuable opportunity to exchange ideas with other brilliant teachers. Participants are assigned a small amount of homework to prepare for each session.

Brenda Jo Brueggemann is professor of English and Aetna Endowed Chair of Writing at the University of Connecticut; she also teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College during the summer. She has been deaf (genetic) from birth. After college, she taught high school in her rural Kansas community for five years before going to graduate school. In the mid-1990s, bolstered by the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, she helped conceptualize the new field of Disability Studies. She has written, co-written, edited, or co-edited 16 books, including nine memoirs in the “Deaf Lives” series she created for Gallaudet University Press, and more than 70 essays and articles at the intersections of Deaf/Disability Studies and writing/art. Her current research centers on disability and deafness in the visual and literary arts.

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