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Oratory’s Enduring Role In Light Of Optimist International’s Oratorical World Championships

From left, Justice Hill, Rebecca Butler Mona and Wayne Fields joined Thursday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

More than two millennia after the ancient orator Demosthenes refined his speaking style by talking with pebbles in his mouth, great speeches continue to play a significant cultural role. That enduring impact on public life – as well as the value of public-speaking skills for everyday contexts – is in the spotlight during the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships.

Taking place at St. Louis University, the competition runs Thursday through Saturday, with several sizable scholarship awards awaiting the winners.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Jim Kirchherr talked with a past winner of the competition, Justice Hill, who is now a SLU student, as well as Rebecca Butler Mona, the president of Optimist International. Also joining the discussion was Wayne Fields, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Chair Emeritus in English at Washington University.

Among other books, Fields is the author of “Union of Words: A History of Presidential Eloquence."

Listen to the conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Alexis Moore. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.