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Why Forensics?

How Does Forensics Benefit Students?
(Resourced from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA)

  1. Forensics offers students an opportunity to develop research, critical thinking,
    organization, persuasion, and oral communication skills.
  2. Forensics appeals to students with different goals and interests. It provides useful
    career preparation in law, education, politics, broadcasting, religion, public affairs,
    business, and other professions requiring critical thinking and communication skills.
  3. Forensics enables students to clarify their personal and social values through
    confrontation with the value judgments of others.
  4. Students learn respect for dissenting opinions and acquire knowledge and skills crucial to effective participation in a democratic society.
  5. Forensics provides students with an opportunity to develop social skills, including
    teamwork. Students develop realistic attitudes toward competition through competing
    responsibly and effectively in an intellectual environment.

Background of Forensics

What is Forensics?
The word, “forensics”, is derived from Latin and is closely related to “forum”. A forum is an open exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of respect and responsibility.

As practiced by the ancient Greeks, the “forum” was the actual seat of government, a place where the people got together to make the decisions by which they ruled. Later, in Roman times, the “forum” became a place where people could speak out in an attempt to persuade their representatives to one course of action or another.

What is Debate?
Debate is an essential activity in democratic societies. More than two thousand years ago, when democracy first flourished in Athens, citizens met regularly in public assemblies. Their votes determined the policy and the actions of the state.

But their votes were always preceded by debate: citizens and leaders argued about what was morally right and legally right; they argued about the best way to achieve a desired outcome; they argued about what was possible and what was prudent.

Does This Have Anything to Do with Science or the Study of Dead Bodies?
No, although both do share some origins. “Legal speaking in the law courts was referred to as forensic discourse.” (Rhetoric of Western Thought, 3rd edition, Kendall/Hunt, 1983, p. 39).
Forensic medicine is the application of medical science to legal problems. It typically has to do with the application of scientific or medical knowledge to legal matters as in the investigation of crime. A formal argumentation or public debate usually takes place in the determination of the cause of death, thus the term forensics.

What are the Different Events?

Humorous Interpretation Humorous interpretation is a humorous cutting which represents one or more characters from a play or plays of literary merit. This material may be drawn from stage, screen or radio. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes, including transitions and the delivery of an original introduction.

Dramatic Interpretation Dramatic interpretation is a dramatic selection representing one or more characters from a play or plays of literary merit. This material may be drawn from stage, screen or radio. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes, including transitions and the delivery of an original introduction.

Duo Interpretation A cutting from a play, humorous or serious, involving the portrayal of two or more characters presented by two individuals. The material may be drawn from stage, screen, or radio. This is not an acting event. Thus, no costumes, props, lighting, etc. are to be used. Presentation is from the manuscript and focus should be off-stage and not to each other. Maximum time is 10 minutes including introduction.

Original Prose and Poetry Original prose or poetry is a selection that has been written by the student. It represents one of more characters. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes, including the introduction and transitions.

Original Oratory In original oratory, speakers choose a topic that interests them and develop a
10 minute persuasive speech on that subject. The topic does not have to be serious. They address current problems and propose solutions. The key element in original oratory is the persuasiveness of the work.

Thematic Interpretation A selection that must be drawn from more than one source of literary merit, but all selections are related by a theme. The use of a manuscript is required. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes, including an introduction.

Expository Contestants will be given three topics in the general area of current events, choose one, and have 30 minutes to prepare a speech that is the original work of the student. Maximum time limit for the speech is 7 minutes. Limited notes are permitted. Students will speak in listed order. Posting of topics will be staggered.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a one-person (per side), persuasive, policy debate on traditional stock issues. Competitors in Lincoln-Douglas will be evaluated on their analysis, use of evidence, and ability to effectively and persuasively organize, deliver, and refute arguments. Speeches should be pleasant, comprehensible, and persuasive in tone. Students should only use evidence that is accurate and thoroughly referenced in their speeches.

Policy Debate Policy Debate is a two-person team debate, in which you and a partner support the affirmative or negative position of a resolution against another team. At each tournament you have the opportunity to compete in several rounds, on both the affirmative and the negative side of the resolution. The affirmative must present a case that supports the resolution. The negative must attempt to disprove the case. Rounds are carefully structured so that each side has adequate opportunity to present their side.

Congress Congress is modeled after the procedure for floor debate in a legislature. Bills and resolutions to be debated have been determined in advance, and students have had time to prepare to speak on these issues. It is designed to test a student’s ability to speak to an issue in both an extemporaneous and impromptu manner and to reveal the individual’s knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Each session of Congress is one hour and twenty minutes long.

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