Phi Kappa Literary Society
The Phi Kappa Literary Society is a college literary society, located at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and is one of the few active literary societies left in America. Founded in 1820, the society continues to meet every academic Thursday of the fall and spring semesters at 7 pm at Phi Kappa Hall on the University of Georgia's North Campus. The Phi Kappa Literary Society holds formal debates and a forum for creative writings and orations as well as poetry.
The society was founded by Joseph Henry Lumpkin, William Crabbe, Homer V. Howard, Stern Simmons, John G. Rutherford, and John D. Watkins. They formed the society after splitting from the Demosthenian Literary Society, dissatisfied with how the other society's meetings were being conducted.
As Phi Kappa grew larger, makeshift meeting places were no longer appropriate or useful. Through funding provided by member Alexander Stephens, the Phi Kappa Literary Society moved into its permanent residence at Phi Kappa Hall. Phi Kappa Hall was built at a cost of $5,000 and dedicated on July 5, 1836. It is the seventh-oldest building on the University of Georgia's campus, and the Phi Kappa Literary Society currently shares use of the building with the Georgia Debate Union.
The Phi Kappa Literary Society has disbanded and reformed many times in its history. The first occurrence was in 1863 due to student enlistment in the American Civil War, which left only five members remaining. Meetings resumed on January 5, 1866. The society flourished in the early 1900s, participating in numerous collegiate debate competitions as well as sending members to compete in international collegiate debate contests. However, a drop in student enrollment due to World War II caused the society to disband again in 1944, and an extremely polarized atmosphere in the society and the university as a whole pulled the Phi Kappa Literary Society apart, seemingly for the final time, in 1973.
After sporadic, unsuccessful attempts to revive Phi Kappa, in 1991, Stephanie Hendricks took an interest into the society after prompting from Thomas Peter Allen and was elected as its new president on January 31, 1991. Thirteen new members were inducted shortly thereafter, and the first meeting of the newly refounded society took place on February 14, 1991 in Phi Kappa Hall.
Debates and programsEdit
In order to become a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society, a University of Georgia student must petition the society for membership, which is a five-week process that culminates in the student delivering a petitioning speech before the society. The student must then be accepted by a vote of the society. Once a student is a full member of Phi Kappa, they must speak at least once every three weeks to maintain membership.
Each academic Thursday, Phi Kappa holds a pre-planned debate centered around a resolution in the format of "Be It Hereby Resolved." Two pre-selected speakers start off the debate with one speech in affirmation of the resolution and one in the negation. These speakers have seven minutes to deliver their speech while all subsequent speakers are limited to five minutes each. The president facilitates the debate, calling on each new speaker until the society is ready to vote. A majority vote of the society decides the winner of each debate. The society abides by Robert's Rules of Order for their meeting procedures.
Creative writings and orationsEdit
The weekly main debate is followed by an open forum for creative writings and orations. In this section of the meeting, both members and guests can deliver any creative writings they may wish to share, pre-prepared speeches outside of the realms of debate, or extemporaneous speeches.
Each fall, Phi Kappa holds an Intrasociety Debate between active members and alumni. Active members and alumni form teams of five and prepare a debate based on a resolution, with about a month of preparation time. The resolution is chosen in alternating years by actives or alumni. One team speaks in affirmation of the resolution, and one team speaks in negation of it. The debate is separated into three parts: constructive, rebuttal, and summation. Upon conclusion of the debate, a panel of judges (also made up of active and alumni members) select the winner.
Phi Kappa DeclamationEdit
In the spring, Phi Kappa holds the Phi Kappa Declamation, wherein members aim to give their absolute best possible speech from a list of pre-selected topics. This is the most honored practice of the year, emphasizing impeccable rhetoric, writing, and floor presence of the speaker.
The Declamation was first introduced in 1994, shortly after the refounding of Phi Kappa. It was previously known as the Alexander Stephens Declamation until Phi Kappa members voted to rename the event in 2019.
The Phi Kappa Literary Society often collaborates with other on-campus and off-campus groups to hold special events. In 2013, Phi Kappa sponsored a debate between the Communist Party USA and the Libertarian Party of Georgia. They have also held a book discussion in collaboration with distinguished faculty members from the University of Georgia's philosophy department, and in 2011, members of Phi Kappa participated in a debate versus the renowned Oxford Union. The Phi Kappa Literary Society also maintains a close relationship with The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their closest tie to another student organization is their 200-year-long rivalry with the older Demosthenian Literary Society. Until 2019, each spring semester Phi Kappa would debate the rival society in the Intersociety Debate. However, in November 2019 the societies revised their longstanding intersociety agreement and eliminated the Intersociety Debate, ending its 28-year history until the agreement is renegotiated in 2022. The societies continue to meet for an Intersociety Meeting each fall.
- Morris B. Abram, founder of UN Watch; Permanent US Ambassador to UN
- Augustus O. Bacon, United States Senator, President Pro Tempore
- Francis S. Bartow, Confederate Congressman, Confederate General
- Henry L. Benning, Confederate General, eponym of Fort Benning
- Eugene Robert Black, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
- Howell Cobb, Secretary of U.S. Treasury, Constitutional Convention Chairman of the Confederate States of America
- Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, Confederate General; editor of the first Georgia Code
- Norman S. Fletcher, Chief Justice, Georgia Supreme Court 2001-2005
- Henry W. Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution; voice of the "New South" Movement
- Phil Gramm, US Senator from Texas
- Thomas W. Hardwick, US Senator from Georgia
- Nathaniel Harris, Governor of Georgia, founder of Georgia Institute of Technology
- Clark Howell, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the Atlanta Constitution; founder of WGST 920 AM radio station; namesake of Georgia Institute of Technology's Howell Hall
- Herschel V. Johnson, Governor of Georgia, 1860 Democratic Party vice-presidential nominee
- Robert Lipshutz, White House Counsel from 1977 to 1979 during the Jimmy Carter administration
- Joseph Henry Lumpkin, First Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia; co-founder of the University of Georgia School of Law
- Sam Massell, Mayor of Atlanta
- Richard B. Russell Jr., US Senator from Georgia, President pro tempore of the United States Senate
- Carl Sanders, Governor of Georgia, United States Senator, President Pro Tempore
- Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, United States Representative
- Eugene Talmadge, Governor of Georgia
- William Tate, University of Georgia Dean of Men
- Ernest Vandiver, Governor of Georgia, State Adjutant General
Other historic societiesEdit
- The Demosthenian Literary Society of The University of Georgia
- The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- The Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania
- The Philolexian Society of Columbia University
- The Philodemic Society of Georgetown University
- The Washington Literary Society and Debating Union and Jefferson Literary and Debating Society of the University of Virginia
- The Union-Philanthropic (Literary) Society of Hampden–Sydney College
- The American Whig–Cliosophic Society of Princeton University
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- Sicurella, Savannah. "UGA Phi Kappa literary society looks to separate itself from racist association". redandblack.com. The Red & Black. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
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- Official blog of UGA news. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
- Announcements section of the DiPhi official website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
- Sicurella, Savannah. "Phi Kappa and Demosthenian literary societies end longstanding intersociety debate". redandblack.com. The Red & Black. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
- News Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine section of official Phi Kappa website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
- Notable alumni section of official Phi Kappa website. Last accessed 2012-01-27.