Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


The Cultural Rhetorics of After-Dinner Speaking

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Media and Communication

First Advisor

Alberto Gonzalez (Advisor)

Second Advisor

John Dowd (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Ellen Gorsevski (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Douglas Forsyth (Other)


The following study investigates the genre of after-dinner speaking (ADS) as articulated within US public discourse in the twentieth-century. Though ADS is an integral facet of speech communication pedagogy and was, in the early twentieth-century, the most popular site of public address outside of pulpit oratory, because the genre is identified as a form of epideictic oratory for the personal sphere, the history of the genre is obfuscated. This dissertation argues that during the early twentieth-century ADS provided a space for the expression of nineteenth-century platform oratorical culture in the banquet halls of the twentieth-century US urban landscape. As a central part of this historical moment of US rhetorical and political culture, ADS functioned to remediate platform oratorical traditions and provide opportunities for cultural identification.