For Contributors

Guidelines for Unit Preparation

The curriculum units on Voices of Democracy should emphasize one of the seven themes or “deliberative topics.” The units should connect to enduring issues, making clear the relevance of the case study to on-going social and/or political controversies and debates. Each curriculum unit is comprised of four documents:

  • 1) an authenticated speech text (or texts);
  • 2) an critical/interpretive scholarly essay;
  • 3) teaching-learning materials, including suggestions for classroom activities, student research, and citizenship resources;
  • 4) a list of additional resources, categorized in terms of print, multi-media, and online resources;

Contributing authors are encouraged to examine existing, published units for guidance on issues of format and style. Complete units may be submitted electronically as four Word documents to Shawn J. Parry-Giles. Submissions should also include a title page identifying the author(s) with contact information. All information identifying the author(s) should be removed from the other documents


1. The Authenticated Speech Text: Each curriculum unit should include a complete speech text, along with audio/video recordings of the speech or excerpts of the speech when available. The author of the unit must ensure that copyright permission will be granted to post the speech online before a unit can be accepted for review.

  • The unit should include a transcribed version of the preferred text.
  • That text typically will represent the words that were actually uttered on the day the speech was delivered.
  • If the author wishes to publish a different text of the speech (e.g., the prepared speaking text, a version that was subsequently edited or published, or a version that circulated after its original delivery), that decision must be explained and justified.
  • The authenticated speech text should be single-spaced with double spacing between paragraphs.
  • Each paragraph of the speech should be numbered consecutively with the numbers placed in square brackets; the speech text should be double spaced and the opening line of each paragraph should be indented.
  • The following authentication information should be placed at the end of the speech text:

Bibliographic List of Sources (Sample):

Kerry, John F. “Statement of John Kerry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War.” New York: Encyclopedia Americana/CBS News Audio Resource Library, 1971. Audio Tape. [=A] (Version A represents the copy-text—the text that will be featured on the VOD website.)

Kerry, John F. 1971. “Statement of John Kerry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War.” In Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia. United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 92d Congress, lst sess., April 22, 1971. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office: 180-185. [=B]  (Version B represents another version that is compared to version A; version B may be used to answer paragraph issues, spellings, correct word usages when uncertainties exist with version A)

Statement of Editorial Procedures:

The copy-text is Kerry 1971 (=A), an audiotape recording of the delivered speech. This selection was based on the plausible efficacy of the delivered speech before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the large number of listeners and viewers of the speech both on live radio and television and subsequently in various venues.

Kerry 1971 (=B) is followed for paragraphing, spelling, and punctuation.

Paragraph numbers have been added in square brackets.

Indications of any normalization of the text (usually spelling or pronunciation) are addressed in the notes below.

Non-grammatical forms have been changed and noted to reflect standard grammatical forms of language as reflected in (B).

The text of this edition has been thoroughly checked and proofread.

All double quotation marks are rendered with “, all single quotation marks with apostrophe ‘.

This copy text is not subject to end-of-line hyphenation.

Special characters and characters with diachronic marks: paragraph 45, communiqué.

Departures from the copy-text and general editorial procedures are as follows (reference numbers specify paragraph in which the departure occurs):

1 I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that B: blank tape A

6 result is of the feelings B: result is of of the feelings A

14 money B: monies A

17 North Vietnamese because B: North Vietnamese because because A

25 going to B: gonna A

29 indignations B: indignancies A

29 lain down B: lied, lain down A


2. Critical/Interpretive Scholarly Essay: Each essay should contain an introduction, with a clear statement of the essay’s argument about the speech, as well as a conclusion that assesses the speech’s legacy and its relevance to issues of civic engagement and democratic deliberation.  The essays are expected to be 15-30 double-spaced, typed pages. The information contained in the curriculum units should be appropriately cited using the Chicago Manual of Style’s (16th edition) rules for endnotes. The typical essay would include the following:

  • Biographical information about the speaker, particularly information that is relevant to the speech or debate (e.g., significant childhood experiences, religious background or training, educational and professional background, political experiences and/or rhetorical training).       The biographical section of the essay also might include a consideration of the speaker’s reputation and credibility at the time of the speech.
  • Discussion of the historical, political, and/or cultural context of the speech, including both long-term trends and immediate events that illuminate the rhetorical exigencies that gave rise to the speech or debate under examination. This might include an analysis of the issues or controversies that the speech or debate engages, information about the location and the occasion for the speech or debate, and analysis of the various audiences for the speech, both immediate and removed.
  • An original and insightful analysis or critical interpretation of the speech or debate itself, consistent with the overarching argument about the historical and/or rhetorical significance of the speech, its connection to one or more of the deliberative themes featured on VOD, and its relevance to ongoing social and/or political controversies and debates.
  • Acknowledgement and engagement of existing scholarly interpretations of each speech/debate.
  • Materials from archival research that shed new light on the speech or debate.
  • A conclusion that reflects on the implications of the analysis, the legacy of the speech, and the relevance of the speech to ongoing political or social controversies and debates. The typical VOD essay grapples with the implications of the case study for contemporary issues of civic engagement and democratic deliberation.

In all critical essays, passages quoted from the speech should be cited with parenthetical references to the paragraph where the quoted material appears in the authenticated speech text that accompanies the essay. When first referencing the speech in the essay, a statement resembling the following should be included in the endnotes:

“All passages from Kerry’s April 22, 1971, speech before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations are cited with reference to paragraph numbers in the printed text that accompanies this essay.”

Each essay should also be accompanied by an author’s note, along with an abstract not to exceed 75 words and a list of key words. The author’s note, abstract, and keyword may be submitted on a separate title page, that also includes the author’s name and institutional affiliation.


3. Teaching-Learning Materials: Each VOD curriculum unit should include a separate document with materials designed to help college-level educators teach the speech in the classroom. These materials should be organized in three categories: Classroom Activities, Student Research, and Citizenship Resources:

  • Classroom Activities: These typically will be discussion questions that teachers can use to help students understand and reflect further upon the historical significance of the speech or debate, or upon rhetorical principles or concepts illustrated by the text or discussed in the critical essay. Other discussion questions might focus on the relevance of the speech or debate to persistent controversies in American history. In addition to discussion questions, classroom activities might include creative ideas for other sorts of in-class exercises, like writing exercises or debates.
  • Student Research: These materials should help teachers develop assignments grounded in library or online research beyond the assigned text and critical essay. Typically they consist of questions that students need additional information in order to answer, along with suggestions for where students might find such information.
  • Citizenship Resources: These materials should help teachers and students illuminate the relevance of particular speeches or debates to ongoing or current issues or controversies, or to America’s history and traditions of democratic deliberation. In preparing these materials, the emphasis should be on one or more of the seven “deliberative themes” featured on Voices of Democracy, and the materials should be designed to help equip students to exercise their own right to speak out as citizens.

Each entry on the list of Teaching-Learning Materials should be numbered and single-spaced, with double-spacing between entries.


4. Additional Resources: Each VOD unit should have one separate document with a list of additional resources for the study of the speech or debate of interest. These materials should be organized in three catetories: Suggested Readings, Audio-Visual Materials, and Online Resources. The citations should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.


For further details on the Technical Specifications of VOD submissions, click here.