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Rhetorics of Motherhood

Lindal Buchanan

Publication Year: 2013

Rhetorics of Motherhood explores the construction of motherhood and maps its use in public discourse, looking at historical moments, strategies and tactics, and individual rhetors. Understanding motherhood's rhetorical construction, application, and consequences yields fresh insights and makes gendered rhetorics more transparent.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. C-C

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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Clever Deployments: A Foreword

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pp. xiii-xvi

Few among us are immune to the psychological tugs of what Lindal Buchanan calls the motherhood code. In fact, few of any ilk are immune to it. We get pulled into its emotional force, or we are repositioned by or push against those who are so pulled. When people think, and rhetors speak, of motherhood, they call forth widely shared cultural codes that...

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pp. xvii-xx

Discourses about mothers, mothering, and motherhood permeate U.S. political culture and are employed by both women and men in order to advance themselves and their agendas within the public realm. These discourses, however, prove to be slippery rhetorical terrain for women, on the one hand, affording them authority and credibility but, on the other,...


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pp. xxi-xxiv

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1. Theorizing Motherhood in Public Discourse

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pp. 1-23

When presidential hopeful John McCain surprised party and political pundits by announcing that a relatively unknown Alaska governor would serve as his running mate, Sarah Palin entered history, becoming the first female vice-presidential candidate on a Republican ticket. Her electrifying address to the Republican National Convention (RNC) ...

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2. From “Wild Woman Writer” to “Mother of Two”: Margaret Sanger, Birth Control, and Ethos Repair

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pp. 24-62

Margaret Sanger had a serious image problem in 1914. In March of that year, she founded the Woman Rebel, a militant, feminist paper with the masthead “No Gods, No Masters.” It appeared at a time when “American radicalism was at one of its peaks of strength and breadth” (Gordon, Woman’s Body 207). Sanger, as an editor with “advanced...

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3. Motherhood, Civil Rights, and Remembrance: Recuperating Diane Nash

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pp. 63-86

When Diane Nash entered the Hinds County Courthouse on 31 April 1962, fully prepared to begin serving a two-year prison term, the twenty-three-year-old leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was protesting southern segregation and sending a message to the broader civil-rights community. She was convinced...

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4. Changing Constructs of Motherhood: Pregnancy and Personhood in Laci and Conner’s Law

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pp. 87-114

With these words and a flourish of the pen, President George W. Bush signed Laci and Conner’s Law: The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA), the congressional bill named to honor Laci Peterson, an eight-months-pregnant woman heinously killed by her husband, Scott, in 2002. Bush identified both the “expectant mother” and “unborn...

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Conclusion: Interrogating Motherhood, Transforming Gender

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pp. 115-126

Those who study women but ignore motherhood do so at some peril, for, as Patrice DiQuinzio observes, it permeates culture, society, and politics. Although motherhood is both powerful and pervasive, its construction and implications for women have been little studied within rhetoric to this point....


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pp. 127-130


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pp. 131-148

Works Cited

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pp. 149-160


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pp. 161-170

About the Author, Series Goal, Further Reading, Back Cover

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pp. 171-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332212
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332205
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332205

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 8 b/w halftones
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 841495201
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rhetorics of Motherhood

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Rhetoric -- Social aspects.
  • Motherhood in literature.
  • Feminist literary criticism.
  • Feminism and literature.
  • Women -- Language.
  • Motherhood in popular culture.
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