Prior to and at this
time, "speech" departments did
not exist in America. Colonial era schools had maintained
an interest in Rhetoric both oral and written, primarily
in "Classics" departments. As the school system
developed many Classics departments fragmented among History,
Foreign Language, and English units. Although some of the scholars/
teachers interested in Rhetoric stayed within Classics departments,
many moved to English departments where, for a time, they shared
common interests in oral and written discourse. Over time, however,
the interest shifted, primarily, to the written mode
and the study of rhetoric became subsumed within English Departments
as "rhetoric and composition." English Departments further
problematized this situation with their own conflicts and splits.
Not only did those interested in teaching oral communication have
to fight to be heard over the "traditional" preference
for writing, rhetoric and composition was seen as less important
than the study of great literature (a situation which still plagues
many modern Departments of English). Teachers interested in speech
were NOT in a good situation. They were, however, interested in
teaching about oral communication, and so they "revolted" and split
from the English Departments, forming Departments of Speech. Leaders in this
movement included prominent Midwest professors
at Illinois, Iowa, and Harvard (among others).
Changing departments by no means solved all of the problems. Almost
immediately, fractures endemic to Speech Departments themselves
began to come to the fore.
the early founders were interested in the "new" psychologies and other social sciences. Due to Campbell's influence (and the influence of other "Epistemologists"), rhetorical historians and theorists were initially motivated to study social scientific features of communication events. However, as the social sciences developed into a purely quantitative and experimental mode, "humanities"-driven rhetorical theory and "science" driven communication studies began to diverge.
Further, governments and military establishments funded communication research as part of the war efforts. These activities led to the development of the modern field of communication studies. The politics, pragmatics, and technologies of these efforts also favored the social scientific.
Additionally, speech/communication departments began to take up study of professional activities in communication. Where, previously, professional research was limited to the domain of public speaking (so entailed politics and the law, primarily), "modern" research included not only theoretic research in professional, but also "applied" professional research.
These and other factors further encouraged sub-disciplinary diversity
in speech communication studies.
As noted above, such diversity was not exclusive to speech/.com
in the area of relative interest in rhetoric. Similar splits occured
in English, as between the literature vs composition camps.
(Nietzsche,Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Vico/Grassi, Habermas, Foucault, and a large group of others who I'll not detail here)
One of the primary descriptions
of the modern philosphic age focuses
on its interest in the "linguistic" or "rhetorical" turn.
Many continental/European 20th century philosophers foreground the importance
of linguistic action in their thought systems.
Many also formulated and articulated rhetorical theories (or forms
thereof). Contemporary rhetorical scholars have become increasingly
interested in, and influence by, these thought systems.
Particularly as exemplified by the work of Toulmin and Perelman,
European writers have taken an interest in the relationships between
judicial systems and practical argumentation in everyday life.
American scholars of argumentation and debate, strong currents
in the history and practices of academic speech communication,
have taken particularly strong interests in this work.
and theological work with religious texts (textual interpretation) has led
to a broad range of developments
in "meaning interpretation." This work, represented
by the writing of Husserl, Schutz, and others, has led to the
development of philosophies which undergird all of qualitative/field-oriented
research; work which is now seen as offering ways to do social
science without acceptance of the positivist (and anti-rhetorical)
tradition of Cartesian logic.
Scholars interested in
the sociology of everyday life, particularly those in England (Stuart Hall,
Raymond Williams and others), have
combined critical studies of mass media (its economic/organizational
basese) with continental philosophy as ways to understand the
rhetorical properties of otherwise taken-for-granted media practices.
These scholars encourage theory, criticism, and practical action
which moves media studies away from the practical interests of
owners and operators toward social consciousness and change. Grossberg
and other Americans carry on this tradition. McLuhan and Postman
present "Americanized" versions of mass media critical
Kenneth Burke, Wayne
Booth and others have kept contemporary English scholars well within the
rhetorical loop by extending literary
critical techniques outside the limitations of exclusive interest
in "high-culture printed texts."
In addition to Kenneth Burke's work, a large number of American
scholars, most identifying with Speech Communication, have developed
numerous hetorical theories and approachesWeaver, Black, Bitzer,
Fisher, Bormann., and many others). The National Communication
Association (formerly Speech Communcation Association) and its
member regional and affiliated organizations sponsor upwards of
30 academic journals dedicated to communication studies, many
of which often foreground rhetorical theory issues.
of speeches, speakers, events with a focus on communication practices in
the public sphere
conceptual development of thought systems about the operation
of, and philosophy behind, communication action.
critical application of rhetorical theory to communication in
action. A wedding of public address with rhetorical theory via
a critical modality.
European hermaneutic and critical studies perspective brought
to bear on communication action, particularly on on the rhetorical
phenomena of everyday life. Hyde and Wander (and others) often
produce outstanding examples of this work.