Notes on Authentication of Rhetorical Discourse

(Last Updated 25 March 2006)

Robert Gaines

The purpose of this document is to provide some introductory comments concerning the authentication or textual criticism of rhetorical discourses to be included in the Voices of Democracy Project. It is based loosely upon theories for establishment of (literary) texts represented in Thorpe (1972), McGann (1992), Greetham (1994), and Shillingsburg (1996). Recourse to these works is necessitated by the relative lack of theoretical attention paid to textual criticism of rhetorical discourses (exceptions are Cleary and Hildebrandt 1961, Murphy 1964, and Smith 1972).

The approach described here is meant to be flexible, allowing for the possibility of various editorial choices, and at the same time specific, to provide a framework that may ensure some regularity of practice. It will be assumed that in establishing texts, editors are aiming at every point to represent what a speaker or author meant to say or write in a rhetorical discourse, where the terms “speaker” and “writer” may be extended to include the complex of individuals who were creatively involved in the composition, presentation, or publication of a rhetorical discourse (including, for example, ghostwriters, advisors, editors, directors, producers, and publishers). It will also be assumed that editors aim to provide a single, determinate, clear-reading text of the rhetorical discourse that has been identified as the object of scholarly inquiry (though this does not preclude the use of alternate texts among reference materials).

Textual criticism is a complex process, typically involving the editor in five activities, namely collection of texts, analysis of texts, selection of a copy-text, construction of a clear-reading text, and explanation of the clear reading-text. Conceptually, at least, these activities are carried out in sequence. Nonetheless, text-critical practice sometimes involves the editor in simultaneous performance of several activities at once.

Collection of Texts

The editor’s first effort is to collect those text instances that are pertinent to the text establishment of a specific rhetorical discourse. Such text instances might include, for example, pre-presentation drafts, pre-presentation script releases, presentation scripts, audio recordings, video recordings, post-presentation transcripts, quotations in other sources, manuscripts, copy-edited manuscripts, proofs (uncorrected and corrected), and possibly multiple published editions. Text instances provide the basic evidence for the eventual clear reading-text of the rhetorical discourse. Identifying the set of text instances that is relevant to the establishment of particular text will depend in large part upon the nature of the edition to be composed (more on this below). The actual location or recovery of text instances pertinent to an edition will generally be guided by the historical circumstances surrounding the performance or publication of the rhetorical discourse. There currently exist no systematic finding aids specially devoted to recovery of text instances of rhetorical discourses (though a partial index of published speeches is provided by Sutton 1966 and Mitchell 1982).

Analysis of Texts

Once text instances have been collected, they must be compared with one another through collation. Comparison is crucial to the editing of texts for three reasons. First it allows the editor to apprehend how many works are represented among the instances. Delivered speeches and published editions of those speeches often differ so markedly that they would seem to constitute separate works, especially when it is considered that the intended audiences and purposes of the various publications may be completely different. Accordingly, collation may be used to identify separate works and to segregate text instances into groups that pertain to those works. Second, regarding an individual work, collation of pertinent text instances allows the editor to determine which of the instances are complete and which are fragmentary. Text instances that might seem at first blush to contain a rhetorical discourse in its entirety will sometimes prove to be partial or abbreviated, and this liability attaches to manuscripts and media recordings as well as more obviously processed text instances such as printed texts (for a monitory example, see Croy 1998 on Campbell 1989, 1:157-79, 2:483-502). Collation of all pertinent text instances is the only means of discovering which ones express the complete work. Third, and again with regard to individual works, collation allows the editor to recognize specific variations among text instances. Some variations are minor and may be explained either as artifacts of the process of transmission or as corrections and modifications of a text that do not substantially change its character. Other variations represent intentional and substantial changes of the text; these significantly modify the import or aesthetic effect of a text and so are conceived as constituting a different version. The activity of text analysis is complete when the extant versions of a text have been identified.

Selection of the Copy-Text

From among the extant versions of a speech, the editor selects a version, and within that version, a particular text instance, to serve as the copy-text. The purpose of the copy-text is to provide a concrete exemplar of the text that may serve as the foundation for establishing the clear reading-text of the rhetorical discourse. A variety of specific factors may influence the selection of a copy-text, but–for rhetorical texts at least–these may generally be subsumed under two headings, factors bearing on authority and factors bearing on reception. Factors bearing on authority relate to the degree that the text represents “speaker” and “author” intentions. Thus, a speech script with the “speaker’s” handwritten revisions might be selected over a local newspaper’s transcription as the copy-text of a speech, especially if the editor wishes to assess strategic choices in the “speaker’s” style. Factors bearing on reception relate to the degree that the text represents the form that reached discourse consumers at a certain moment or in large numbers or, otherwise, that contributed most to the social significance of the text. Thus, an abbreviated, censored, or mutilated version of a rhetorical discourse might be selected over the original text, if the shorter version had wider distribution and the editor’s purposes included explaining community responses. At times, there may be reasoned dispute about whether authority or reception should serve as the criterion for selecting the version of a rhetorical discourse that ought to be used as copy-text. For example, Wills’ (1992) text of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” is founded upon manuscripts closely related to the presentation of the speech, and so stresses the authority of the presented text. It is arguable that this version of the address, which reached only a few thousand audience members at a public ceremony, is less to be preferred than a version based on newspaper instances of the text, which brought the speech to many times more readers (and secondary listeners) and established the speech as an icon in American political ideology. The editor’s scholarly objectives in establishing a text are crucial to the resolution of such disputes.

Construction of a Clear Reading-Text

Although editorial conventions may vary in different circumstances and with regard to different types of texts, the convention followed in the Voices of Democracy Project is that the reading-text itself should be clear of all signs of editorial intervention except for paragraph numbers placed just before the first word in each paragraph. The clear reading-text should be constructed from the copy-text by correcting, emending, or otherwise improving that text based on pertinent textual and historical evidence. (All modifications of the copy-text are explained in notes; more on this below). Where the copy-text is an audio- or videotape representation of the speech, simple mistakes (e.g., verbal non-fluencies and mispronunciations) should be corrected without comment and the practice noted as part of general critical principles. Likewise, where speech delivery involves irregularities (e.g., unnecessary repetitions of words and grammatical anomalies), the editor should carefully consider what the speaker intended to say and the degree to which the irregularity affected or might have affected audience reception. In such cases, the editor may wish to emend the clear reading-text and note the emendation in a note. Punctuation and paragraphing of audio- or videotape copy-texts should be based on textual evidence outside the copy-text (including the “speaker’s” typical practice) or conventions articulated by the editor among general critical principles. Otherwise, improvements in the copy-text should appeal to the most relevant evidence at hand. For example, textual difficulties in a copy-text may often be resolved through recourse to unproblematic passages in other versions of the text or in related works, or to original sources quoted in the copy-text, or to typical practices of the “author” or “writer” elsewhere in the copy-text or in other versions or in related or similar works. In the end, the clear reading-text should represent the most readable text of the rhetorical discourse that is supported by the available textual evidence (recognizing that such a text may remain problematic or incomplete).

Explanation of the Clear Reading-Text

In the Voices of Democracy Project, explanations of the clear reading-text (1) list text instances used in constructing the clear reading-text, (2) state general editorial procedures and (3) document and justify (a) deviations from the copy-text or (b) deviations from general editorial procedures. Such explanations will eventually appear in the header incorporated into the web edition of the clear reading-text. But for the purposes of project submissions, explanatory materials should be placed after the clear reading-text in the editor’s word processor file. Explanatory materials should begin with a list of text instances used in constructing the clear reading-text. This list should include complete bibliographic information for each text instance and assign a symbol to each text–normally a capital letter. In the attached edition of Barbara Jordan’s “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment,” the list of text instances used to construct the clear reading-text looks like this:

Jordan, Barbara. [1974a] 1986. “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment.” In Great Speeches [videorecording]. Volume II: An Alliance Video Production; Director, Susan Cook. Greenwood, IN: Educational Video Group. [= A]

Jordan, Barbara. 1974b. “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment.” In Debate on Articles of Impeachment. Hearings of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-Third Congress, Second Session. Pursuant to H. Res. 803, A Resolution Authorizing and Directing the Committee on the Judiciary to Investigate Whether Sufficient Grounds Exist for the House of Representatives to Exercise its Constitutional Power to Impeach Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America. July 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, and 30, 1974. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Pp. 110-13. [= B]

Hamilton, Alexander. 1788. “The Powers of the Senate Continued.” No. 65 [7 March 1788]. In The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. home/histdox/fed_65.html. [= C]

Next should come a brief statement of general editorial procedures used in constructing the clear reading-text. This statement should at least explain the editorial selection of the copy-text and comment upon how decisions were made regarding paragraphing, spelling, and punctuation. In the attached edition of Barbara Jordan’s “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment,” the statement of general editorial procedures is as follows:

The copy-text is Jordan 1974a (= A), a videotape representation of the delivered speech. This selection was based upon the plausible efficacy of the delivered speech in deliberations of the House Committee on the Judiciary and the relatively large number of viewers of the speech both on live television and subsequently in various venues. Except where specified in notes, Jordan 1974b (= B) is followed for paragraphing, spelling, and punctuation.

Finally, explanatory materials should include brief notes that explain deviations from the copy-text or from general editorial procedures. Note entries should be organized as follows. Each note should begin with the paragraph number presented in the clear reading-text. After one space follows a lemma, that is, the word or passage of words in the clear reading-text that is being subjected to comment (this represents the text as you print it). One space after the lemma follows either the symbol of the text instance used as source (in deviations from the copy-text or general editorial procedures) or the last name of a text editor (in emendations of the copy-text). Following the text instance symbol or editor’s name is a colon. After one additional space the word or passage of words that is being modified is presented (this represents the text from which your printed text is deviating); this is followed by a space and then the symbol for the text instance that contains the modified word or passage of words. In the attached edition of Barbara Jordan’s “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment,” several notes explain deviations from the copy-text based on better readings contained in another text instance:

5 In establishing the division B: The division A

5 the accusers and the judges B: the accusers and the judges and the judges A

6 confined B: confided A

7 The North Carolina ratification convention; “No on need be afraid . . .” B: “No one need be afraid” the North Carolina ratification convention, “No one need be afraid . . .” A

18 defendants of money B: defendants money A

19 President be connected B: President is connected A

20 “Impeachment is intended . . .” B: “Impeachment is attended is intended” A

22 The South Carolina B: The Carolina A

25 betray their B: betray the A

26 concealed surreptitious entry, attempted B: conceal surreptitious entry, attempt A

Likewise, one note explains a deviation from the copy-text based on an editorial emendation designed to correct a grammatical anomaly:

21 was absolute complete direction Gaines: were absolution complete direction A

Finally, one note explains a deviation from general editorial procedures. This note modifies the extent and punctuation in a quotation of Alexander Hamilton in Jordan 1974b (= B), the text instance generally followed in punctuation and quotations. The basis of the modification is in the original source of the quotation, namely, The Federalist, no. 65 (= C). The copy-text, Jordan 1974a (= A), is cited as a source for the modification to show that it is consistent with the change.

8 Prosecutions of impeachments “will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,” said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, No. 65, “and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.” AC: “Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,” said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, No. 65. “And to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.” B

It is expected that most texts in the Voices of Democracy Project will involve relatively few explanatory notes.

Works Cited

Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. 1989. Man Cannot Speak for Her. 2 vols. New York: Greenwood.

Cleary, James W., and Herbert W. Hildebrandt. 1961. “The Critical Edition in Rhetorical Scholarship: A Guide to Its Preparation.” Communication Monographs 28: 29-38.

Croy, Terry Desch. 1998. “The Crisis: A Complete Critical Edition of Carrie Chapman Catt’s 1916 Presidential Address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 28: 49-73.

Greetham, David C. 1994. Textual Scholarship: An Introduction. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, 1417. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994.

McGann, Jerome J. 1983. A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mitchell, Charity. 1982. Speech Index: An Index to Collections of World Famous Orations and Speeches for Various Occasions. Fourth Edition Supplement, 1966-1980. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow.

Murphy, Richard. 1965. “Problems in Speech Texts.” In Papers in Rhetoric and Poetic, ed. Donald C. Bryant, 70-86. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Shillingsburg, Peter L. 1996. Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age: Theory and Practice. 3d ed. Editorial Theory and Literary Criticism. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Smith, Robert W. 1972. “The Textual Critic: Hung-Up On Trivia?” Southern Communication Journal 37: 424-37.

Sutton, Roberta Briggs. 1966. Speech Index: An Index to 259 Collections of World Famous Orations and Speeches for Various Occasions. 4th ed., rev. and enl. New York: Scarecrow Press.

Thorpe, James. 1972. Principles of Textual Criticism. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library Press.

Wills, Garry. 1992. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Sample Authentication of Barbara Jordan’s “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment”

Barbara Jordan, “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment,” Committee of the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., 25 July 1974. Ed. Robert N. Gaines.

[1] Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[2] Mr. Chairman, I join my colleague, Mr. Rangle, in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man and it has not been easy but we have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.

[3] Earlier today we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, We, the people. It’s a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the 17th of September in 1787 I was not included in that “We, the people.” I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.”

[4] Today, I am an inquisitor, and hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total, and I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.

[5] “Who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves?” The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, and that’s what we are talking about. In other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an Article of Impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office. The Constitution doesn’t say that. The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of this body, the legislature, against and upon the encroachment of the Executive. In establishing the division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the Framers of this Constitution were very astute. They did not make the accusers and the judges the same person.

[6] We know the nature of impeachment. We have been talking about it for a while now. “It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers” to somehow be called into account. It is designed to “bridle” the Executive if he engages in excesses. “It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men.” The Framers confined in the Congress the power if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical; and preservation of the independence of the Executive. The nature of impeachment, a narrowly channeled exception to the separation of powers maxim, the Federal Convention of 1787 said that. It limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term “maladministration.” “It is to be used only for great misdemeanors,” so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention. And in the Virginia ratification convention: “We do not trust our liberty to a particular branch. We need one branch to check the others.”

[7] The North Carolina ratification convention; “No one need be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with impunity.”

[8] Prosecutions of impeachments “will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,” said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, No. 65, “and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.” I do not mean political parties in that sense.

[9] The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term, “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

[10] Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that “nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness. Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can.”

[11] Commonsense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons. Congress has a lot to do. Appropriations, tax reform, health insurance, campaign finance reform, housing, environmental protection, energy sufficiency, mass transportation. Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems. So today we are not being petty. We are trying to be big because the task we have before us is a big one.

[12] This morning in a discussion of the evidence we are told that the evidence which purports to support the allegations of misuse of the CIA by the President is thin. We are told that that evidence is insufficient. What that recital of the evidence this morning did not include is what the President did know on June 23rd, 1972. The President did know that it was Republican money, that it was money from the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, which was found in the possession of one of the burglars arrested on June 17th.

[13] What the President did know on the 23rd of June was the prior activities of E. Howard Hunt, which included his participation in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, which included Howard Hunt’s participation in the Dita Beard ITT affair, which included Howard Hunt’s fabrication of cables designed to discredit the Kennedy administration.

[14] We were further cautioned today that perhaps these proceedings ought to be delayed because certainly there would be new evidence forthcoming from the President of the United States. There has not even been an obfuscated indication that this committee would receive any additional materials from the President. The committee subpoena is outstanding, and if the President wants to supply that material, the committee sits here.

[15] The fact is that on yesterday, the American people waited with great anxiety for eight hours, not knowing whether their President would obey an order of the Supreme Court of the United States.

[16] At this point I would like to juxtapose a few of the impeachment criteria with some of the actions the President has engaged in.

[17] Impeachment criteria: James Madison, from the Virginia Ratification Convention. “If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter him, he may be impeached.”

[18] We have heard time and time again that the evidence reflects the payment to defendants of money. The President had knowledge that these funds were being paid and these were funds collected for the 1972 Presidential campaign.

[19] We know that the President met with Mr. Henry Peterson twenty-seven times to discuss matters related to Watergate and immediately thereafter met with the very persons who were implicated in the information Mr. Peterson was receiving. The words are, “If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter that person, he may be impeached.”

[20] Justice Story: “Impeachment is intended for occasional and extraordinary cases where a superior power acting for the whole people is put into operation to protect their rights and rescue their liberties from violations.”

[21] We know about the Houston plan. We know about the break-in of the psychiatrist’s office. We know that there was absolute complete direction on September 3rd when the President indicated that a surreptitious entry had been made in Dr. Fielding’s office after having met with Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Young.

[22] “Protect their rights.” “Rescue their liberties from violation.”

[23] The South Carolina Ratification Convention impeachment criteria: Those are impeachable “who behave amiss or betray their public trust.”

[24] Beginning shortly after the Watergate break-in and continuing to the present time the President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by Government prosecutors. Moreover, the President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case which the evidence will show he knew to be false.

[25] These assertions, false assertions, impeachable, those who misbehave. Those who “behave amiss or betray their public trust.”

[26] James Madison again at the Constitutional Convention: “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”

[27] The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregard the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, concealed surreptitious entry, attempted to compromise a Federal judge while publicly displaying his cooperation with the processes of criminal justice.

[28] “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”

[29] If the impeachment provision of the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that eighteenth century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth century paper shredder. Has the President committed offenses and planned and directed and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate? That is the question. We know that. We know the question. We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question. It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.

[30] I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

Bibliographic List of Sources

Jordan, Barbara. [1974a] 1986. “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment.” In Great Speeches [videorecording]. Volume II: An Alliance Video Production; Director, Susan Cook. Greenwood, IN: Educational Video Group.