“Inspiration of Delivery”: John A. Broadus and the Evangelical Underpinnings of Extemporaneous Oratory
Abstract: Adding to the ongoing reconsideration of nineteenth-century oratorical theory, this essay recovers an influential evangelical theory and method of extemporaneous delivery that contributed to the rise of extemporaneous speech in America. The “inspiration of delivery,” articulated by Southern Baptist homiletician John A. Broadus in his 1870 preaching manual, posits a process of ongoing invention during extemporaneous delivery. Although it works to accomplish evangelical purposes, Broadus’ theory of delivery is a primarily secular synthesis of the classical canon of delivery with naturalistic elocutionary theory. Through its wide and persistent circulation, this theory of delivery continues to shape American expectations for performing authenticity in public oratory.