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Women and Rhetoric between the Wars

Ann George, M. Elizabeth Weiser, and Janet Zepernick

Publication Year: 2013

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In Women and Rhetoric between the Wars, editors Ann George, M. Elizabeth Weiser, and Janet Zepernick have gathered together insightful essays from major scholars on women whose practices and theories helped shape the field of modern rhetoric. Examining the period between World War I and World War II, this volume sheds light on the forgotten rhetorical work done by the women of that time. It also goes beyond recovery to develop new methodologies for future research in the field.
Collected within are analyses of familiar figures such as Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, and Bessie Smith, as well as explorations of less well known, yet nevertheless influential, women such as Zitkala-Ša, Jovita González, and Florence Sabin. Contributors evaluate the forces in the civic, entertainment, and academic scenes that influenced the rhetorical praxis of these women. Each essay presents examples of women’s rhetoric that move us away from the “waves” model toward a more accurate understanding of women’s multiple, diverse rhetorical interventions in public discourse. The collection thus creates a new understanding of historiography, the rise of modern rhetorical theory, and the role of women professionals after suffrage. From celebrities to scientists, suffragettes to academics, the dynamic women of this volume speak eloquently to the field of rhetoric studies today.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Series: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xiii

We want to thank the many individuals and institutions whose moral, intellectual, and financial support has made possible this collection. In that light, we acknowledge series editors Cheryl Glenn and Shirley Wilson Logan for their helpful encouragement and advice to make this a stronger...

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pp. 1-16

The 1920s and 1930s represent a tremendous breakthrough for women into American public life. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins served out the Depression as the first woman cabinet secretary. Nellie Tayloe Ross and Miriam Ferguson became state governors in 1925. Arkansas Democrat Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the...

Voluntary Associations for the Civic Scene

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pp. 17-93

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1. Continuous Mediation: Julia Grace Wales’s New Rhetoric

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pp. 19-31

Frustrated by the inability of traditional diplomacy to prevent war, representatives of various suffrage and women’s peace organizations from around the globe gathered at The Hague in 1915 to form the International Congress of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP). One particularly important participant in that first meeting...

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2. The Hope for Peace and Bread

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pp. 32-47

When Jane Addams stepped onto the stage at New York’s Carnegie Hall on 9 July 1915, she was undoubtedly the most respected woman in the United States and arguably the most famous woman in the world. The social settlement she had cofounded with Ellen Gates Starr in Chicago in 1893, Hull House, had proved a vibrant...

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3. Gertrude Bonnin’s Transrhetorical Fight for Land Rights

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pp. 48-62

In the summer of 1923, the Philadelphia-based Indian Rights Association (IRA) began to realize the scope of the corruption surrounding Indian land probate in Oklahoma. In response, the president of the IRA, Herbert Welsh, called for an investigation by a three-member team consisting of Matthew Sniffen from the IRA, attorney...

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4. A Rhetor’s Apprenticeship: Reading Frances Perkins’s Rhetorical Autobiography

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pp. 63-78

Frances Perkins (1880–1965), secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945 and the first woman cabinet member, has received surprisingly little scholarly attention, given her pivotal role in the Roosevelt administration and her status as chief architect of the heart of New Deal legislation: Social Security. Recently, that has begun...

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5. Working Together and Being Prepared: Early Girl Scouting as Citizenship Training

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pp. 79-93

According to popular mythology, the American Girl Scout movement began in early 1912 with a phone call. Fresh from a tour abroad in which she had befriended British Boy Scout founder Lord Robert Baden- Powell, wealthy Savannah socialite Juliette Gordon Low telephoned her cousin and ordered her to “come right over. I’ve got something for the girls...

Popular Celebrity in the Epideictic Scene

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pp. 95-190

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6. Reading Helen Keller

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pp. 97-113

In 2010 the ultraconservative Texas State Board of Education approved sweeping changes to the K–12 social studies curricular standards. Among other changes, these standards include a revised roster of women who merit study: Carrie Chapman Catt and Harriet Tubman are out; Phyllis Schlafly is in, as are legendary exemplars of selfless service...

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7. Dorothy Day: Personalizing (to) the Masses

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pp. 114-128

“Is it not possible to be radical and not atheist?” Hearing that question today, social activists can think of “radical” Christian Americans like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., or Sr. Helen Prejean, groups like Witness for Peace or Bread for the World or, indeed, their own church’s likely participation...

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8. The Shocking Morality of Nannie Helen Burroughs

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pp. 129-142

Nannie Helen Burroughs, race worker and founder of the National Training School for Women and Girls, adopted for the school’s motto the promise that “We specialize in the wholly impossible.” Reflecting Burroughs’s own recognition of the enormous obstacles facing her students, this motto also signifies the complexities...

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9. Bessie Smith’s Blues as Rhetorical Advocacy

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pp. 143-158

The 1920s and 1930s were a period of tremendous intellectual and artistic energy in the African American community, a surge of culture characterized by figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, Jessie Fauset, and Louis Armstrong. Many of these intellectuals and artists sought to erase negative...

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10. Traditional Form, Subversive Function: Aunt Molly Jackson’s Labor Struggles

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pp. 159-174

Born Mary Magdalene Garland in 1880, Aunt Molly Jackson was ten years old and in jail when she discovered her voice. Attempting to avoid a ten-day sentence for playing a prank, Jackson composed her first folk song, “Mr. Cundiff Turn Me Loose,” and performed it for the sheriff and his wife...

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11. Sweethearts of the Skies

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pp. 175-190

The early women pioneers of aviation—women such as Amelia Earhart and two of her contemporaries, Bessie Coleman, a barnstormer who performed before thousands and was the first African American pilot to hold an international license, and Florence Klingensmith, known for her amazing aerobatic...

Academia and the Scene of Professionalism

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pp. 191-259

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12. Field Guides: Women Writing Anthropology

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pp. 193-208

Anthropology has long been perceived as a “welcoming science” for women. Margaret Mead, the most famous anthropologist of the twentieth century, suggested in 1960 that it was anthropology’s status as a “new science” that made her discipline “kinder to women, to those who came from distant disciplines, to members of minority...

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13. “Have We Not a Mind Like They?” : Jovita González on Nation and Gender

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pp. 209-222

The epigraph I begin with is taken from a short story by Tejana author and scholar Jovita González de Mireles1 in which González imagines a conversation between Mexican-born Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and the American poet Anne Bradstreet. Within the social landscape of González’s South...

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14. “Exceptional Women” : Epideictic Rhetoric and Women Scientists

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pp. 223-239

In her 1926 handbook, Fields of Work for Women, Miriam Simons Leuck sums up the state of affairs for career women as follows: “Women are finding ever widening opportunities in the more desirable levels and are building for themselves a more equal road. The girl who possesses the courage to be a pioneer...

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15. “Long I Followed Happy Guides”: Activism, Advocacy, and English Studies

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pp. 240-259

In The Resistant Writer, Charles Paine argues that composition historiography has “concentrated too much on hero-villain dichotomies” and the insular intellectual culture of the university (xi). Leveling a similar critique, Jeff Rice exposes the tendency in composition historiography to create...

Works Cited

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pp. 263-282


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pp. 283-285


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pp. 287-302

Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms

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pp. 303-320

Other Books in the Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms Series

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pp. 304-321

Back Cover

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p. 322-322

E-ISBN-13: 9780809331390
E-ISBN-10: 080933139X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809331383
Print-ISBN-10: 0809331381

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 9
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms