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Feminist Rhetorical Practices

New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies

Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch

Publication Year: 2012

From two leading scholars in the field comes this landmark assessment of the shifting terrain of feminist rhetorical practices in recent decades. Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch contend the field of rhetorical studies is being transformed through the work of feminist rhetoricians who have brought about notable changes in who the subjects of rhetorical study can be, how their practices can be critiqued, and how the effectiveness and value of the inquiry frameworks can be articulated.

To contextualize a new and changed landscape for narratives in the history of rhetoric, Royster and Kirsch present four critical terms of engagement—critical imagination, strategic contemplation, social circulation, and globalization—as the foundation for a new analytical model for understanding, interpreting, and evaluating feminist rhetorical inquiry and the study and teaching of rhetoric in general. This model draws directly on the wealth of knowledge and understanding gained from feminist rhetorical practices, especially sensitivity toward meaningfully and respectfully rendering the work, lives, cultures, and traditions of historical and contemporary women in rhetorical scholarship.

Proposing ambitious new standards for viewing and valuing excellence in feminist rhetorical practice, Royster and Kirsch advocate an ethos of respect and humility in the analysis of communities and specific rhetorical performances neglected in rhetorical history, recasting rhetorical studies as a global phenomenon rather than a western one. They also reflect on their own personal and professional development as researchers as they highlight innovative feminist research over the past thirty years to articulate how feminist work is changing the field and pointing to the active participation of women in various discourse arenas and to the practices and genres they use.

Valuable to new and established scholars of rhetoric, Feminist Rhetorical Practice: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies is essential for understanding the theoretical, methodological, and ethical impacts of feminist rhetorical studies on the wider field.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-xii

You are about to read a comprehensive and forward-looking account of what feminist research in rhetoric has accomplished over the last three decades—a period that happens to coincide with the core of my own professional life. I remember the mounting excitement as feminist work...


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pp. xiii-xiv

Part One: A Call for Action in Research, Teaching, and Learning

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1. Our Own Stories of Professional Identity

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pp. 3-12

Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies is designed to explore and engage the terrain of feminist rhetorical studies as an arena for intellectual work that is coming more clearly into its own.
As the coauthors of this volume, we have come to our interests in this...

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2. Documenting a Need for Change in Rhetorical Studies

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pp. 13-25

In this volume, we focus primarily on the history of rhetoric (as compared with composition and literacy) and undertake four critical tasks. First, we delineate major shifts in recent decades in rhetorical inquiry, thus describing a new and changed landscape for narratives in the history of...

Part Two: Re-visioning History, Theory, and Practice

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3. Tectonic Shifts in Rhetorical Practices

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pp. 29-39

Picking up on the terms discussed in chapter 2, this chapter focuses more closely on mapping out the shift in rhetorical studies from traditional paradigms based largely on Western cultural expectations and values to paradigms that make considerably more room, as Peggy McIntosh...

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4. Feminist Rhetorical Studies as a Robust Interdisciplinary Framework

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pp. 40-68

The interdisciplinary means by which feminist rhetorical studies occurs take advantage of contextual and textual knowledge, resonating with the ways in which similar work has been occurring in other areas in English studies and beyond, including studies focused on women, communication...

Part Three: Recasting Paradigms for Inquiry, Analysis, and Interpretation

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5. Critical Imagination

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pp. 71-83

As Royster points out in Traces of a Stream, the use of critical imagination functions as one of several inquiry tools available for developing a critical stance in order to engage more intentionally and intensely in various intellectual processes. The idea is to account for what we “know”...

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6. Strategic Contemplation

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pp. 84-97

As we state in chapter 2, we consider our four terms of engagement as terministic screens that interact dynamically with each other to create new knowledge and understanding. Ultimately, with the term strategic contemplation, we want to reclaim a genre of research and scholarship traditionally...

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7. Social Circulation

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pp. 98-109

As we describe in chapter 2, we chose the term social circulation as leverage for understanding complex rhetorical interactions across space and time. The desired analytical outcome is to enhance the capacity to reimagine the dynamic functioning of women’s work in domains of discourse...

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8. Globalizing the Point of View

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pp. 110-118

In our postimperial world, we are pressed to acknowledge the presence of others globally and to find ways to treat globality as a core analytic by which we interrogate rhetorical performance and accomplishment. The basic argument of this chapter, as suggested in the epigraph by Wendy...

Part Four: Conclusion

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9. Charting a New Course for Research and Practice

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pp. 131-151

In this volume, we have sought to raise the veil of feminist rhetorical studies to reveal its practices and potential and bring to bolder relief ways that these practices impact rhetorical studies itself as an ongoing academic enterprise. One basic goal of the analysis has been to document the...


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pp. 155-157

Works Cited

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pp. 159-169


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pp. 171-180

Authors Bios

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Studies In Rhetorics And Feminisms

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Other Books in the Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms Series

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809330706
E-ISBN-10: 0809330709
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330690
Print-ISBN-10: 0809330695

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Feminism and education -- United States.
  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching -- United States.
  • Women -- Education -- United States.
  • Feminist theory.
  • Rhetoric -- Social aspects.
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