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WCU Forensics

WCU Forensics is an elite group of intercollegiate Speakers, Debaters, Actors, and Future Leaders. Throughout the year we travel all over the country, and even Canada competing against a bounty of prestigious schools. If you have an interest in sharing your ideas with others, enjoy a competitive atmosphere, want to make new friends, want to travel, and most importantly want to enhance your speaking skills while touching the lives of many other individuals, then forensics may be what you need. The Forensics office, or "The Cave" is located in the basement of Main Hall in room 016 on campus here at West Chester University. If you are interested in becoming a member, or just want some information on the team, feel free to peruse the site. If that's not enough, stop on by the office, or contact Mark Hickman at

What is forensics?
"Forensics" is a word rooted in the Western world's classical experience. The Greeks organized contests for speakers that developed and recognized the abilities their society felt central to democracy. These exercises acquired the title "forensics," derived from the Latin term for ensis and closely related to forum. Because the training in this skill of public advocacy, including the development of evidence, found one of its important venues in the law courts, the term "forensic" has also become associated with the art and science of legal evidence and argument. Our association researches and trains in the earlier and more global skills of argument and public advocacy.
What are the different forensic events?
Prepared Public Speaking
All events are carefully researched, written in full manuscript, memorized, and delivered from memory. All have traditional organizational elements of a speech (introduction, body, conclusion) and incorporate documentation from a variety of sources. We currently have great database access in the forensics office. So 7-10 sources should not AT ALL difficult to find. Visual aids may be used where appropriate. All speeches are a 10 minute maximum.
Typically a problems/causes/solutions speech that intends to motivate the audience to take action to help solve a concrete societal problem. The traditional organization of the body tends to be: a) scope of the problem (physical, emotional, financial-- individual and societal); b)causes (structural and/or attitudinal--governmental, institutional, and personal), and the solutions (governmental, institutional, and individual specific immediate actions. The best topics are those in which the problem driectly impacts the audience in which they can participate in some of the solutions.
Sharing non-controversial information with an audience that will generally leave them with the feeling, "that was really interesting, and I learned something useful." A typical organization of the body of the speech would be: a)definition of the subject/process--what it is, its origins; b)how the subject/process works and is used; c)future uses/benefits or implications of the subject/process. This is by no means the only structure you can use.
After Dinner
An oratory that used humor as it's primary form of proof. The speech is not to be a string of one-liners and must have a clear serious point that is devloped throughout the speech. Usually follows a format similar to persuasion(a little more loosely structured). Beyond this structure, ADS is similar to stand up comedy. Speakers should strive to incorporate a wide variety of forms of humor(puns, parody, exaggeration, physical and vocal characterization, anticipation, etc.).
Rhetorical Criticism
A critical evaluation of the effective or ineffective use of persuasive messages by someone else. The contest speaker's goal is to illuminate how and why the chosen communication event succeeded or failed. To aid the process of analysis a method(communication theory that highlights a particular persuasive process or communicative form) is used. A typical oragnization of the body would be: a) explain the method of analysis; b) apply the elements of the method to the communication event; c) conclusions of what we can learn from this analysis about the communication event in particular, the method of analysis used, and/or communication/persuasion in general.
Oral Interpretation
The speaker selects various forms of literature and creates imaginative and believable images and characters for the audience. Literature may either be presented as a single selection from one another or as a program of shorter pieces centered on a theme and written by a single or multiple authors. No theatrical conventions(costumes, lighting, props, etc.) are allowed. While all presentations have been practiced to the extent that they are usually memorized, interpretation requires the use of a manuscript(a black vinyl 3-ring binder approximately 6"x9"- sized to hold a half of sheet of paper as a single page. Literature is generally more competetive if it is first person narrative. Avoid literature that is widely known and used. Maximum time for all events, including an original introduction, is 10 minutes.
condensed verse. Look for well developed multisensory imagery in your poems. Give preference to literature that covers a range of perspectives, moods, and tones. Literature that rhymes is fine if you can break the rhyme scheme through most of it.
Any literature that is not from verse or from a play. Most often, prose comes from a short story or novel. Look for pieces that tell a universal experience in a unique way. You should have a well developed main character that experiences significant change during the course of the story. There should be some dialogue to demonstrate skill at creating character interaction. Vivid images are a major plus.
Program Oral Interp
A program of thematically-linked selections of literary merit, chosen from two of the three recognized genres of competetive interpretation(prose/poetry/drama). A substantial portion of the total time must be devoted to each of the two genres used in the program. Use of manuscript is required. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes including original introduction and transitions.
interpretation of literature by two people. Material may be drawn from any type of text--drama, prose, and/or poetry. Off stage focus is used(partners may not look at each other during the performance). Limited blocking and mimed actions are allowed. Good duos are blocked not unlike the process used in an acting scene, but in a more restricted and creative sense to create the illusion of overt blocking and action.
Dramatic Interpretation
play cutting performed by one person.

Limited Preparation Events
Organizationally and presentationally, limited preparation events are similar to prepared speeches. They are just prepared in a limited amount of time at the tournament itself. These events are 7 minutes max.
seven minutes is divided between preparing and presenting a speech usually on a general philosophical quotation. Accomplished speakers strive to prepare for 1-2 minutes and deliver a 5-6 minute speech. This is a goal that anyone can work up to. The intent of the speech is to defend a position taken on the quotation in such a way that the audience is given greater insight into the meaning of the quotation as it relates to the human experience.
speakers are given three questions on current events issues (domestic, economic, or international/foreign policy) of which they must choose one. They are given 30 minutes to prepare a 5-7 minute speech answering the question and defending the answer in an organized and convincing manner. To aid in this process, teams prepare extemp files (portable libraries of current events information) which can be used as a resource during preparation time.
Lincoln-Douglas Debate
This is one-on-one policy debate in which speakers either uphold or speak against the national resolution by devloping cases to advocate change or by arguing against others who advocate change. This year's resolution is, "Resolved: That the United States Federal Government should substantially increase environmental regulations on industrial pollution." Typically, a tournament will offer 4 preliminary rounds(occasionally 6), and appropriate elimination rounds based on the number of debaters entered. Generally, rounds one and two are randomly preset. Round three is power matched so that those with similar records and points debate one another. Round four is power protected within brackets(so that the top speaker meets the bottom speaker who has the same number of wins from previous rounds).
Affirmative cases are generally needs justification cases (proving significant harms in the current system, demonstrating that the problem is inherent in our current law, policies, and attitudes; presenting a plan for change; proving that the proposed plan will eliminate the harms; providing advantages over the current system). Some cases are comparative advantage(s) cases, which demonstrate that the plan proposed will yield certain significant advantages over the status quo in addressing a problem. Some cases are goals cases, which demonstrate that the status quo is inherently incapable of meeting a significant goal it has established and then provide a plan to meet the goal.