Friday, May 15, 2009

Gestures and Gilbert Austin

A while back the 1915 book, Effective Public
Speaking, by Frederick B. Robinson showed up in the results of a Google search. (It can be downloaded free from Google Books).When Robinson discusses gestures he refers back to Gilbert Austin. Each gesture has a preparatory movement, an execution, an ictus (or stroke), and a return (recovery to the position of rest). He shows a system using multiple planes (the green illustration above) that I have never encountered due to my historical ignorance of rhetoric.

For example, the yellow illustration shows how in saying “I admired his virtue, mercy and charity” one makes horizontal front for virtue, horizontal oblique for mercy, and horizontal lateral for charity. The preparatory motion of the second and third are “simply slight curves accompanied by the wrist.”

Robinson also shows some exercises with two clubs (the blue illustration, below) for practicing these movements. I got tired just from looking at it. Gilbert Austin wrote Chironomia or a Treatise on Rhetorical Delivery back in 1806.

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