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New Directions for Oral Interpretation


The text is dead--but not in some twist of Postmodern logic. Rather, an examination of current competitive oral interpretation practices reveals that, indeed, the text is dead in competitive forensics. Many texts in oral interpretation have been sacrificed to the idea of "theme" as witnessed by the recent trend toward interweaving different pieces of literature that revolve around a central theme. This practice involves dividing multiple pieces of literature to create, essentially, a new whole since no one piece retains its sense of completeness. Interweaving literature flies in the face of traditional oral interpretation practices, not just in the realm of forensics but in the arena of oral interpretation as performance art, as well. As Catherine Zizik writes, "To the performer of oral interpretation, literature matters; performing the literature serves as a vehicle for study" (1).

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves why we engage in oral interpretation as forensics participants. This essay advocates a reworking of the definitions of events to reflect a more pedagogical perspective in directing both coaches and students to the purpose of engaging in oral interpretation. To undertake this study we'll consider how classic oral interpretation texts define oral interpretation. We'll then consider where some of the problems current practices in oral interpretation lead. Next we'll look at the rules of the American Forensics Association as well as the National Forensics Association regarding oral interpretation. Finally, we'll propose new definitions for the oral interpretation events that more closely direct students and coaches to return to the roots of oral interpretation.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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