Narrative as the philosopher’s stone: How russell h. conwell changed lead into diamonds

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Abstract

Russell H. Conwell’s once famous speech, "Acres of Diamonds,” has been dismissed by both historians and rhetoricians as a shallow expression of the Horatio Alger myth. This conclusion does not explain how Conwell was able to win nationwide audiences for over fifty years. A Burkean analysis of the speech reveals that Conwell’s formula for success relied upon a masterful transformation of pentadic ratios, carried on through the medium of the "true-life” success story. The speech illustrates the power such narratives have in altering an audience’s perception of its role in a greater drama.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-355
Number of pages14
JournalWestern Journal of Speech Communication
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication

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