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    Monday
    Jul062015

    Prosopopoiea: Pronounce It, Then Use It

    Pro-so-po-PEE-ah. OK, you can pronounce it. Every teacher of speech and rhetoric should use it in class. Why? For one thing, every rhetoric class used to consider this exercise essential to oratory. For another, it really works.

    Prosopopeia has students pretending to be great speakers from the present and past. You try to imitate the character and voice of a famous person, often in a novel setting. For example, have James Madison lecture the current Supreme Court on the Constitution. Or have different women in history argue why they should be on the $10 bill.

    The more dramatic students really get into it. But even shy students can benefit, pretending to be someone else for a while. Besides being a fun speech exercise, it’s a terrific way to teach history—by channeling it.

    Here’s a video we did for our sister site, ArgueLab.

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