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3 Introduction WORKINGWOMENIN(TO) RHETORICALHISTORY Jessica Enoch and David Gold Feminist scholars of rhetoric have long been interested in women’s rhetorical interventions into civic arenas, where deliberative rhetoric on matters political has traditionally been seen as the most significant form of rhetorical performance (Campbell; Portnoy; Southard; Zaeske; Zboray and Zboray). At the same time, feminist inquiry has also been marked by a methodological imperative that continually seeks to question “what counts” as rhetoric (Glenn; Hogg, “Including”; Mattingly, “Telling”; Royster; Shaver), expanding our conceptions of where a rhetorical performance takes place, what it looks like, how it may be deployed and evaluated, and who may be a rhetor at all. This imperative elicits a welcome discomfort for feminist scholars, encouraging us to look beyond traditional arenas for evidence of women’s rhetorical contexts, practices, and goals. In Women at Work: Rhetorics of Gender and Labor, we, along with our contributing authors, shift attention from women’s rhetorical engagement with civic concerns to work-related ones. In particular, we invite readers to explore how women have fought for wider work opportunities and better working conditions, how they have expanded understandings of what work is, and how they have contended with dominant perceptions of the kinds of work women may do and the kinds of workers they may be. This volume thus seeks to examine both the rhetorics that have defined and circumscribed women’s work and the ways women have exercised rhetorical strategies to navigate them. Collectively, through these investigations, we attempt to gain insight on how work, labor, and professionalization are gendered via rhetorical means as well as the implications of this gendering process. We assert that drawing attention to women’s rhetorical relationship to work is critical because work determines so much in people’s lives. Indeed, to be able to argue for how, why, and on what terms one works is critical to human existence. Work affects one’s sense of independence, quality of life, daily sustenance, individual and familial sur- 4 Jessica Enoch and David Gold vival, intellectual engagement, personal happiness and fulfillment, innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial spirit. Furthermore, to couple questions of work with questions of gender reveals the special and significant challenges women have faced as they have attempted to understand and intervene in the conditions of their labor. As we and our contributors take up this project, we join a growing number of researchers who have initiated a robust conversation about gender, rhetoric , and work. Scholars such as Risa Applegarth, Heather Branstetter, Jessica Enoch, David Gold and Catherine Hobbes, Jordynn Jack, Lisa Mastrangelo, Roxanne Mountford, Liz Rohan, Carolyn Skinner, Janine Solberg, and Susan Wells have considered women’s rhetorical relationship to work across diverse sites of labor, as they have examined the rhetorical negotiations women have made as anthropologists, sex workers, teachers, scientists, preachers, secretaries , clerical workers, and physicians. Communication scholars such as Mary Boor Tonn and Mary E. Triece have examined the rhetorical dynamics of women’s labor activism, and feminist scholars in composition and rhetoric such as Michelle Baliff, D. Diane Davis, and Roxanne Mountford, Susan Miller , and Eileen E. Schell have examined the gendered constructions of both the field itself and work within it, along with providing insights for managing its complex terrain. This emergent feminist rhetorical research has been emboldened by historiographers in various fields who have long attended to women’s activities in the workplace, such as Ava Baron, Julia Kirk Blackwelder, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Thomas Dublin, Faye E. Dudden, Nancy Schrom Dye, Philip S. Foner, Sharon Harley and the Black Women and Work Collective, Sonia Hernández, Jacqueline Jones, Alice Kessler-Harris, Jean Marie Lutes, Rebecca Sharpless, and Lara Vapnek. A primary goal of Women at Work is to add depth and breadth to this body of research. The collection includes fifteen scholarly interventions that explore a range of subjects, cultural sites, and historical moments that cover a period from the antebellum era to the World War II years, from nascent mass industrialization to mass communication. The women rhetors studied here worked as millworkers, inventors, clerks and secretaries, seamstresses, factory and farm laborers, blues singers, and star athletes. They were ex-slaves, communist leaders, photographers, and fashion magnates. They wrote newspaper and journal articles, novels and memoirs, meeting minutes and news releases, diaries and letters. They responded to representations of themselves in the popular press and government propaganda, built businesses and fought for labor rights, sought professional alliances and forged intimate friendships, lived lives private and public. The...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780822987185
Related ISBN
9780822945888
MARC Record
OCLC
1113898346
Pages
303
Launched on MUSE
2019-08-28
Language
English
Open Access
No
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