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Vote and Voice

Women's Organizations and Political Literacy, 1915-1930

Wendy B. Sharer

Publication Year: 2007

Wendy B. Sharer explores the rhetorical and pedagogical practices through which two prominent postsuffrage organizations—the League of Women Voters and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—challenged the conventions of male-dominated political discourse and trained women as powerful rhetors.
Vote and Voice is the first book-length study to address the writing and speaking practices of members of women’s political organizations in the decade after the suffrage movement. During those years, women still did not have power within deliberative and administrative organs of politics, despite their recent enfranchisement. Because they were largely absent from diplomatic circles and political parties, post-suffrage women’s organizations developed rhetorical practices of public discourse to push for reform within traditional politics.
Vote and Voice is historically significant as well as pedagogically beneficial for instructors who connect rhetorical education with public participation by integrating writing and speaking skills into a curriculum that aims to prepare educated students and active citizens.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Series: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Other Books, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-11


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pp. xi-13

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pp. xiii-xiv

First, I am deeply indebted to my mentor and friend Cheryl Glenn, who provided constant support and insightful feedback through many earlier versions of this manuscript. Heartfelt thanks also go to Don Bialostosky, Steve Browne, Sharon Crowley, and Jack Selzer for stimulating my thinking...

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pp. 1-14

The lyrics of this comical song for new members of the Y-Dames club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, suggest that the women who sang the tune realized the challenges they posed to popular expectations about women’s behavior. Not afraid to ridicule those expectations, the Dames used the song...

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1. Before Suffrage: Rhetorical Practices of Civic Engagement

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pp. 15-34

Scholars have recently begun to pay a good deal of attention to the reading, writing, and speaking practices of American women’s organizations, particularly as those practices developed before suffrage. Prior to the Nineteenth Amendment, scholars have suggested, women formed extensive networks...

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2. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom: Rhetorical Practices of a New Internationalism

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pp. 35-62

When Dutch suffragist Aletta Jacobs learned of the cancellation of the annual International Woman Suffrage Association (IWSA) convention due to the difficulty of travel in wartime, she summoned various international women, including prominent American activists Jane Addams and Emily...

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3. “We Must Make Enormous Propaganda”: The WILPF and Public Opinion for Peace

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pp. 63-90

The significance of the WILPF involves not only their challenges to traditional rhetorical functioning of international politics but also the collaborative, widely dispersed persuasive activities they engaged in to mobilize support for those challenges. Due to the militaristic bent of traditional international relations...

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4. Seeking Full Measure: The League of Women Voter and Partisan Political Communication

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pp. 91-126

As the WILPF struggled during the late 1910s and the 1920s to change restrictive channels and procedures of international relations, other women struggled to change restrictive channels and procedures of American electoral politics. When the Tennessee legislature ratified the Nineteenth...

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5. Rhetorical Education for Political Influence: The LWV and Political Literacy

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pp. 127-161

When political party leaders hesitated to appoint women to powerful administrative posts or to consider legislative concerns of importance to many women, former suffragists responded by establishing the LWV. From its location outside of traditional political parties, the LWV worked to involve...

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Conclusion: Learning from the Strategies and Struggles of the LWV and WILPF

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pp. 162-179

Literate practices employed and taught within organizations such as the WILPF and the LWV provide fertile opportunities for study because those practices reveal how groups of people collaborate in order to challenge the configurations of power perpetuated through existing traditions of reading,...


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pp. 183-193

Works Cited

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pp. 195-209


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pp. 211-218

Author Bio, Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms, Back Cover

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pp. 219-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780809387687
E-ISBN-10: 0809387689
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809327508
Print-ISBN-10: 0809387689

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 7
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms
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OCLC Number: 859155965
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Vote and Voice