“Music is all about the words, but there’s something about the rhythm, the instruments, that conveys the sense that it’s happiness, or it’s hope. You can tell a story, just as you can with a novel, with a painting.
It’s not just you that’s experiencing it, it’s your whole audience.
Just as Cohen makes a distinction between the words and the way that they’re spoken, Boyland also articulates the difference between the written and performed versions of his poems.
“I perform for others, but I write for myself,” he said.
If you want to call it an art, it certainly can get in the poetic,” he said.
“We practice the craft of gauging an audience, which is artistic.” Though the music of the words may very well define spoken rhetoric as an art, students and faculty also note rhetoric’s practicality and pre-professional purposes. Scanlon ’18, a previous student of Expos 40, sees spoken rhetoric as almost universally useful.One such course, on offer at all three schools, is “The Arts of Communication.” Timothy P. Cohen, who holds a faculty appointment at the Harvard Extension School, where he teaches “Oral Communication In the Workplace,” splits spoken rhetoric into two components.Mc Carthy ’93, an Adjunct Lecturer on public policy at the Kennedy School, teaches six sections of the course this semester. “On a basic level, there’s what you say and how you say it.In addition to delivering three speeches throughout the semester, students practice impromptu speaking, analyze famous speeches, and write their own.“I think because our class is a practicum, we practice the craft.“I perform because I want people to feel something, that’s the goal. I feel like it helps me figure out the way that I’m thinking, my emotions.” Boyland said that he uses his techniques of speaking as a way to respond in real time to the reactions of his audiences.He echoes Cohen in his sense of the musicality inherent in spoken word. People like the way that I say things,” Boyland said.Although some argue that advanced technologies and social media are beginning to replace face-to-face conversation, many students at Harvard still see the ancient art form of spoken rhetoric as worth pursuing, both inside and outside the classroom.Expos 40 may be an anomaly in the undergraduate course catalogue, but at the Kennedy School, the Business School, and the Graduate School of Education, rhetoric courses are much more available.Since Expos 40 is the only rhetoric class at the college, however, and she was not chosen for the lottery until after this internship, Dias-Jayasinghe had had little opportunity to practice her spoken rhetoric in a classroom setting before she had to give her presentation.Dias-Jayasinghe is not alone in her experience with Expos 40’s lottery process.