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The University of Texas at Tyler
UT Tyler Professor Creates Internationally Acclaimed Web Site
What began as a single Web page consisting of hyperlinks to political, social movement and religious speeches has grown to an entire site of information developed by Dr. Michael Eidenmuller, associate professor of speech communication at The University of Texas at Tyler.
That page, first titled “Online Speech Bank,” was originally conceived and implemented by Eidenmuller as a useful resource for his students toward various course assignments.
AmericanRhetoric.com transformed into an extensive online library of text, audio and video versions of speeches delivered in the U.S. over the past 70 years.
“AR’s content offerings now include a ‘top 100 speeches of the 20th Century’ section, Hollywood movie speeches, 9/11 speeches, audio and video illustrations of various figures of speech, conceptual exercises, indexes of journals and associations in the field and other offerings that animate the study and practice of American public address,” he said.
The site currently attracts 400,000 to 450,000 visitors per month from nearly 200 countries. Approximately 35 percent of the Web site’s user base lies outside the United States.
Educators working within a variety of academic fields including political science, journalism, history and English have integrated the site’s contents into their courses as well.
“The site benefits students and educators at UT Tyler in the same way it benefits all who are interested in the theory and practice of American public address, namely by providing free access to thousands of high-quality text, audio and video rhetorical artifacts. AR benefited directly from the support of UT Tyler, particularly during its formative stages. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship overall and one that I hope will continue for many years,” he said.
A sometimes overlooked but nonetheless important facet of AR’s credibility concerns the degree of care taken to produce accurate representations of speeches “as delivered,” versus other versions “as prepared for delivery.”
“Many of AR’s speech text transcriptions are products of a meticulous line-by-line scripting of and comparison with their audio versions. In some cases the discrepancies between the ‘as prepared’ and ‘as delivered’ versions are significant enough as to amount to two qualitatively distinct representations of what is ostensibly the same speech,” Eidenmuller said.
“A great deal of care has been given to providing reliable transcriptions of the ‘as delivered’ versions of public speeches and a good share of the site’s scholarly credibility follows from that care,” he added.
Eidenmuller holds a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He currently serves on the Religious Communication Association’s executive board and is an associate editor for the Journal of Communication and Religion.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.