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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article is about lectures and the lyceum movement. The lecture form has a long history that antedated the advent of a coherent network of public speaking. In its initial phase, the lyceum movement stressed the importance of mutual instruction and random lectures. Many early lecturers were local residents, commonly clergymen or lawyers, speaking before audiences in their own towns or villages. The article states that although New England remained a stronghold of the lyceum movement, settlers moved into Ohio, the old Western Reserve, where expanding literacy rates supported both the extension of the public lecture and new periodicals such as the Western Messenger, admired by many Transcendentalists. Theodore Parker and Emerson were much in favor of the lecture form. Emerson even noted that the “orator is the most American of Americans”.

Keywords: lyceum movement, lecture form, public lecture, antebellum, orator

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