"From Every Mountainside": A Literary Analysis of Geography and Geology in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech

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Robert Amster Claudia Skutar

Abstract

By Robert Amster, Education


Advisor: Claudia Skutar


Presentation ID: Room417_1


Abstract: My research concerns the use of specific words and phrases involving concepts of stone, earth, monuments, and mountains in Dr. King's most famous speech. My research for this project was motivated by a desire to understand King's speech as both a timeless literary text and one that is simultaneously deeply informed by its specific time and place. My method involved researching the geographic features cited by King, and then connecting the specific geography and history of those locations to the overall aims and message of the speech. I discovered that King's references do more than embellish the meaning of his speech: they should, in fact, encourage the reader or listener to recontextualize and reconsider specific words from earlier passages in his speech, causing us to see them in a new, more hopeful light. This analysis is relevant to our current racial and political climate, in which issues of social justice frequently butt heads with the history-entrenched geographic and monumental landscape of our nation.

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Section
Podium Presentation -- Room 417 -- People & Place