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Angelina Grimké

rhetoric, identity, and the radical imagination

Stephen H. Browne

Publication Year: 1999

Abolitionist, women's rights activist, and social reformer, Angelina Grimké (1805-79) was among the first women in American history to seize the public stage in pursuit of radical social reform. "I will lift up my voice like a trumpet," she proclaimed, "and show this people their transgressions." And when she did lift her voice in public, on behalf of the public, she found that, in creating herself, she might transform the world. In the process, Grimké crossed the wires of race, gender, and power, and produced explosions that lit up the world of antebellum reform. Among the most remarkable features of Angelina Grimké's rhetorical career was her ability to stage public contests for the soul of America—bringing opposing ideas together to give them voice, depth, and range to create new and more compelling visions of social change. 
     Angelina Grimké: Rhetoric, Identity, and the Radical Imagination is the first full-length study to explore the rhetorical legacy of this most unusual advocate for human rights. Stephen Browne examines her epistolary and oratorical art and argues that rhetoric gave Grimké a means to fashion not only her message but her very identity as a moral force.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix

The merits of this book are owing chiefly to the company I have been fortunate to keep through the past several years. My approach to interpreting Grimke's texts has been deeply informed by the work of Michael Leff, and I wish to thank Michael for his personal encouragement and leadership in the field of rhetorical studies. I also wish to thank Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, whose leadership in the recovery and critical...

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Introduction: Encountering Angelina Grimk

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pp. 1-16

Angelina Grimké lived her life in the spaces between, in the gaps and fissures that separated her from what was left behind and from a more perfect future. Her biography may well be read as a series of repudiations, as a coming to conviction and so to action. Yet these repudiations—of home, slavery, patriarchy, sectarianism, of the world she knew—far from crippling Grimké, gave to her character its ...

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Chapter 1: Beginnings: Rhetoric and Identity in the Journal of Angelina Grimk

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pp. 17-34

Charleston, South Carolina. 10 January 1828. In the twenty-fourth year of her life, Angelina Grimk

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Chapter 2: Violence, Identity, and the Creation of Radical Community

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pp. 35-56

The summer of 1835 burned itself deeply into the racial consciousness of America. From Nashville to New Hampshire, violence against abolitionists had taken on a scope and intensity unprecedented in the annals of the antislavery movement. Even in this, "the era of greatest urban violence America has ever experienced," 1835 was to prove singular: abolitionists were subjected in that year...

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Chapter 3: Real Pasts and Imagined Futures in the Appeal to the Christian Women of the South

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pp. 57-82

Boston. 14 October 1835. No. 17 Washington Street. The riots that had incited Grimké two months earlier continued apace, and William Lloyd Garrison was predictably in the middle of it all. Here was, he recalled, "an awful, sublime and soul-thrilling scene—enough, one would suppose, to melt adamantine hearts, and make even the fiends of darkness stagger and retreat." The scene of Garrison's...

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Chapter 4: “An Entirely New Contest”: Grimké, Beecher, and the Language of Reform

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pp. 83-110

Saturday, 12 August 1837. Groton, Massachusetts. In the midst of her speaking tour and with a twelve-mile ride to Roxboro scheduled for the Sabbath, Angelina relaxed in the way she knew best: by writing letters. In Theodore Weld she could count on a reader at once sympathetic and challenging, and on this day she had much to communicate. After months of travel throughout New England and...

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Chapter 5: “To Open Our Mouths for the Dumb”: Grimké, Weld, and the Debate over Women’s Speech

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pp. 111-137

After the slow and arduous spiritual journey that took her from private doubt to public conviction, Grimk

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Chapter 6: Violent Inventions: Witnessing Slavery in the Pennsylvania Hall Address

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pp. 139-165

Angelina Grimk

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pp. 167-174

On the occasion of Sarah Grimk


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pp. 175-188


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pp. 189-196


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pp. 197-201

E-ISBN-13: 9780870138973
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870135422

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 1999