Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Couple More Commencement Addresses

Here’s one by Bill Cosby. And another. And one by Joss Whedon. And Anna Quindlen. And Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy. And Stephen King. And Billie Jean King. And Michael Jackson, who recorded “Billie Jean.”*  And George Saunders. And Jon Stewart.

Continue reading

MLA Citation for Speeches

Here’s what the OWL at Purdue has to say about citing speeches with MLA formatting:

Provide the speaker’s name. Then, give the title of the speech (if any) in quotation marks. Follow with the name of the meeting and organization, the location of the occasion, and the date. Use the descriptor that appropriately expresses the type of presentation (e.g., Address, Lecture, Reading, Keynote Speech, Guest Lecture, Conference Presentation). Remember to use the abbreviation n.p. if the publisher is not known; use n.d. if the date is not known.

So, for example, the David Foster Wallace speech would look like this:


Commencement Speeches

This term, for your source logs, you’ll be finding commencement speeches by well-known people. Choose one or two of the speeches below to start with, and then begin looking for some on your own. When you write your posts, focus on the following questions:

  • Begin with an MLA citation of the address, and a hyperlink.
  • What is the main point of the address?
  • What key stories or examples are most essential to making that point? What makes those stories/examples especially important?
  • At the time the speech was given, what would the speaker have been known for? How might that have shaped expectations of the speech? Did the speaker fulfill those expectations, or defy them?
  • Give us a couple of important quotes from the speech, and tell us why they’re important.
  • Do you have any criticisms of the speech?

Here are a few of the speeches. When the name is linked, the link sends you to a transcript.

Steve Jobs

Oprah Winfrey

Conan O’Brien

J. K. Rowling

And a few more, transcripts only:

Jeff Bezos


Stephen Colbert

Barbara Kingsolver

Michael Lewis

Sal Khan

Sheryl Sandberg


David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water”