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Rhetorica in Motion

Rhetorica in Motion: Feminist Rhetorical Methods and Methodologies

Eileen E. Schell
K. J. Rawson
With a Foreword by Kate Ronald
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  • Book Info
    Rhetorica in Motion
    Book Description:

    Rhetorica in Motionis the first collected work to investigate feminist rhetorical research methods in both contemporary and historical contexts. The contributors analyze the decision-making processes and methodologies employed in deciphering the origins, meanings, theories, workings, and manifestations of feminist rhetoric.The volume examines familiar themes, such as archival, literary, and online research, but also looks to other areas of rhetoric, such as disability studies; gerontology/aging studies; Latina/o, queer, and transgender studies; performance studies; and transnational feminisms in both the United States and larger geopolitical spaces.Rhetorica in Motionincorporates previous views of feminist research, outlines a set of principles that guides current methods, and develops models for undertaking future inquiry, including working as individuals or balancing the dynamics of group research. The text explores how feminist research embodies what has come before and reflects what researchers, institutions, and instructors bring to it and what it brings to them. Underlying the discovery of this volume is the understanding that feminist rhetoric is in constant motion in a dynamic that resists definition.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7367-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Kate Ronald

    It’s an honor and a pleasure to write the first words in this wonderful new collection that takes Rhetorica one step further from her static historical representation and moves her into new spaces with new tools.Rhetorica in Motionexplores how all the work on feminist rhetorical theory and history leads to a revised and expanded feminist methodology—for research, teaching, and activism. Eileen Schell deftly and thoroughly explains the sites and perspectives of this methodology in her introduction. So I’ll take the latitude that a foreword offers to speculate a bit about the figure of Rhetorica herself.

    I’m delighted...

  2. Introduction: Researching Feminist Rhetorical Methods and Methodologies
    (pp. 1-20)
    Eileen E. Schell

    In titling this volumeRhetorica in Motion, we acknowledge the historical image of Rhetorica, a queen bearing a sword.¹ We also acknowledge the work set into motion by Andrea Lunsford and the members of Annette Kolodny’s graduate seminar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) who inspired the volumeReclaiming Rhetorica(1995), the first edited collection of women’s rhetoric in the field of rhetoric and composition. LikeReclaiming Rhetorica, the inspiration for this book also began in a Feminist Rhetorics graduate seminar in upstate New York—this time in the fall of 2005 at Syracuse University, an hour away from Seneca Falls,...


    • Refiguring Rhetorica: Linking Feminist Rhetoric and Disability Studies
      (pp. 23-38)
      Jay Dolmage and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson

      Feminism and disability studies ought to be powerful allies. Feminist rhetorical methods provided a foundation for the emerging field of disability studies in the humanities in the late 1980s. And in the 1990s, disability studies theories and methods developed synergistically with feminism and other theories in directions that challenge and transform methods and theories across fields.

      As feminists have argued, the received collection that we call rhetoric is made up of remnants of a classical past, layered over by accumulated practices from nearly three millennia in which the structures and values of patriarchy dominated, all wrapped up with over three...

    • Queering Feminist Rhetorical Canonization
      (pp. 39-52)
      K.J. Rawson

      InThe Western Canon, Harold Bloom (1994, 35) describes the canon as “exist[ing] precisely in order to impose limits, to set a standard of measurement that is anything but political or moral.” As Bloom describes it, canonization is an inherently normativizing process—canons exist by virtue of exclusion, selectivity, and standards. Feminists have long opposed canonization since those who have the power to “impose limits” act from a privileged position that is anything but politically neutral. Bloom’s desire, and that of others, to establish a “standard of measurement” that is politically or morally neutral fails to account for the complexities...

    • Cosmopolitanism and the Geopolitics of Feminist Rhetoric
      (pp. 53-70)
      Wendy S. Hesford

      In “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Orient” Caren Kaplan demonstrates the power of cosmopolitan travel and its imperialist entailments in global feminist discourse. In this romantic image of Clinton as a “citizen of the world,” taking up the cause of third world women’s oppression, we see the concurrence of colonial and cosmopolitan discourses (2001, 225). Lucinda Franks’s coverage of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s and Chelsea Clinton’s 1999 trip to North Africa, at the onset of Clinton’s run for a seat in the U.S. Senate, articulates the cosmopolitan ideal through a visual rhetoric of identification, namely Clinton’s projected bond with “common Egyptian women,” and...

    • Growing Routes: Rhetoric as the Study and Practice of Movement
      (pp. 71-86)
      Ilene Whitney Crawford

      In 2002, I began collecting literacy narratives from postwar generation Vietnamese women in order to understand the ways in which acquiring English is sponsored and compelled by capitalism’s expansion in the third world (see Crawford 2007). At that time, I categorized the project as feminist literacy studies. But I had a rhetorical problem: the tendency I shared with my U.S. audience to freeze Vietnam in time, circa 1975, impaired my ability to work on the terms the physical space of Vietnam offered, and impaired my ability (and that of my readership) to see the future Vietnam my subjects were imagining,...


    • Making Pathways: Inventing Textual Research Methods in Feminist Rhetorical Studies
      (pp. 89-103)
      Kathleen J. Ryan

      As a scholar first trying to establish a research agenda as a tenure-track faculty member, I found that early efforts to articulate my research agenda to a general scholarly audience in faculty evaluation reports and grant applications were uncertain at best. I lacked a language to satisfactorily name my research methods and agenda in feminist rhetorics to make arguments for my scholarly potential. Because I was not practicing a more familiar research methodology like historiography or ethnography, I did not have a way to describe my work effectively in these important evaluative contexts, let alone for the sake of my...

    • Rhetorics of Possibility: Challenging the Textual Bias of Rhetoric through the Theory of the Flesh
      (pp. 104-117)
      Bernadette M. Calafell

      In the summer of 2002, I found myself in Mexico City looking for Malintzin Tenepal, known to some as La Malinche or Doña Marina Malintzin. This woman, who was Hernan Cortés’s lover and translator, as well as the symbolic mother of Mexican and Chicana/o peoples, had been a part of my existence all my life, though at times I did not even know who she was. I was in the midst of a crisis. Only two years earlier I had moved to North Carolina from Arizona and found myself in a space where literally no one knew what Chicana/o meant....

    • Mining the Collective Unconscious: With Responses from Ruth Ray and Gwen Gorzelsky
      (pp. 118-135)
      Frances J. Ranney

      Some two years ago, my colleague Ruth Ray, a composition scholar and feminist gerontologist (2000, 2008), told me about an archive of nearly one thousand case files stored in a closet at the Hannan Foundation, a senior services center in downtown Detroit, a short walk from our offices in the Wayne State University Department of English. Might I be interested, she asked, as director of women’s studies, in these archives? Of course, I said—though I had no idea what I could do with them. We agreed that we would meet weekly that summer to go through the files, most...

    • Researching Literacy as a Lived Experience
      (pp. 136-151)
      Joanne Addison

      Much important work in rhetoric and composition is derived from a specifically feminist orientation. While some of this work focuses on empirical methods and methodologies, outside of case study research we still lack both a strong orientation toward empirical research and a significant body of work from which to draw upon that directly addresses what it means to conduct feminist empirical research in our field. Part of this gap lies in the ongoing struggle of rhet/comp to define itself as a discipline. We are both burdened and energized by our relationship to freshman composition; we are engaged in debates over...

    • Rhetorica Online: Feminist Research Practices in Cyberspace
      (pp. 152-170)
      Heidi A. McKee and James E. Porter

      The World Wide Web is an important space and media in which people communicate and scholars study the rhetorics of diverse populations. Type, for example, “women’s groups online” into Google, and as of May 2008 the number of hits returned will be approximately 150,000. According to a report on the “State of the Blogosphere,” over 120,000 new blogs are created every day world wide (Sifry 2006). The number of videos already uploaded to YouTube is in the hundreds of millions. From pregnancy support groups to online chats of Christian activists to the blogs of grrrl gamers and the videos of...


    • Writing as Feminist Rhetorical Theory
      (pp. 173-188)
      Laura R. Micciche

      What would it mean to read feminists as rhetorical theorists of writing, rather than predominately as social theorists? What can this sort of directed reading teach us about writing and rhetoric? And what can we do with what we learn? These questions lead me to explore a method for engaging with feminist work that emphasizes writing as a conceptual and imaginative process of vital importance to feminist rhetorical theory. In a reciprocal exchange, seeing writing as central to feminist rhetorics promises to expand what writing can mean as a tool for knowledge-making and remaking and for instructional methods. Embedded in...