Ways of Forgetting and Remembering the Eloquence of the 19th Century: Editors of Romanian Political Speeches

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The paper presents a critical evaluation of the existing anthologies of Romanian oratory and analyzes the pertinence of a new research line: how to trace back the foundations of Romanian versatile political memory, both from a lexical and from an ideological point of view. As I argue in the first part of the paper, collecting and editing the great speeches of Romanian orators seems crucial for today’s understanding of politics (politicians’ speaking/ actions as well as voters’ behavior/ electoral habits). In the second part, I focus on the particularities generated by a dramatic change of media support (in the context of Romania’s high rates of illiteracy at the end of the 19th century): from “writing” information on the slippery surface of memory (declaimed political texts such as “proclamations,” “petitions,” and “appeals”) to “writing” as such (transcribed political speeches). The last part of the paper problematizes the making of a new canon of Romanian eloquence as well as the opportunity of a new assemblage of oratorical texts, illustrative for the 19th century politics, and endeavors to settle a series of virtual editing principles
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