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58 4 Releasing Hold: Feminist Historiography without the Tradition Jessica Enoch To challenge and revise the rhetorical tradition—this phrase captures the prevailing exigencies for feminist historiography in rhetoric. The pervasiveness of this scholarly agenda becomes evident in a quick survey of the initial and groundbreaking work in this area, where metaphors of disruption and revision abound. For example, while Andrea Lunsford writes that the goal of feminist historiography is to “interrupt the seamless narrative ” of the rhetorical tradition (“On Reclaiming” 6), Cheryl Glenn calls for “re-mapping” the familiar rhetorical landscape (Rhetoric Retold 4). Working toward a similar aim, Susan C. Jarratt encourages feminist scholars to “burs[t] into the male study, tak[e] books off the shelf, and fli[p] irreverently through them, rearranging the furniture of the history of rhetoric” (“Performing ” 2). These calls for radical revision to the rhetorical tradition make perfect sense. For more than two thousand years, conventional rhetorical history has recorded the work of elite male rhetors and rhetoricians as well as masculine forms of rhetorical practice, inscribing it as agonistic, competitive , public, and linear. In so doing, rhetorical history has ignored not only women’s rhetorical production but also alternative ways of theorizing and practicing rhetoric. Given the rhetorical history feminist scholars have received, altering the rhetorical tradition becomes the most obvious and important mode of scholarly production. As numbers of scholars have observed, feminist historians have worked to achieve the goal of revising rhetorical history by creating scholarship that falls into two dynamic and robust categories: (1) histories that recover the work of female rhetors and rhetoricians, and (2) histories that reread the rhetorical tradition through the lens of gender theory. Recent surveys of feminist research substantiate this claim. For instance, in their review of more than sixty works of scholarship, Elizabeth Tasker and Frances B. Holt-Underwood assess that the “paradigms” of recovery and rereading Releasing Hold 59 have “shaped the purposes, methods, and goals of feminist historical research ” (55). Kathleen J. Ryan’s study of major edited collections dedicated to feminist historiography finds that “recovery and gender critique are two general research methods feminists have brought to rhetorical studies to challenge the ways patriarchal oppression has shaped its study and textual tradition” (23). And in describing the canonization process in feminist rhetorical scholarship, K. J. Rawson explains that the “two primary methodologies ” of recovery and gendered analysis “guide” the majority of work inside the “feminist rhetorical canon” (“Queering Feminist” 40). While the efficacy of both historiographic modes has certainly been reflected upon and debated,1 the explicit naming of these categories as well as the effusive production of these two types of scholarship suggests what it means to write a feminist history of rhetoric: the objective is to revise the rhetorical tradition, and the means of achieving that objective is by either recovering historical figures or rereading canonical texts, knowledge, and practices.2 My project in this chapter is not to challenge these claims about the means and ends of feminist historiography. After reviewing more than 125 articles published in the past fifteen years, I too found recovery and gendered analysis to be the dominant modes of practice that work toward the ultimate goal of destabilizing the rhetorical tradition.3 And while naming these taxonomies and their overarching project certainly has the potential to diminish the range and vibrancy of scholarship that falls inside these categories, it is safe to say that recovery, gendered analysis, and revision serve as key methodological terms in this field of study. Rather than interrogating these dominant terms and working within these categories, I am interested in exploring what is left out of the dominant narrative told about feminist historiography. For while recovery, rereading, and revision are the most prevalent ways to write feminist rhetorical history , they are not the only modes of and goals for historiographic production that scholars engage and identify. My interest in this chapter, then, is to investigate historiographic “outliers”—that is, feminist scholarship that pushes beyond these categories of analysis—as a means of examining what this kind of work is doing, how it’s doing it, and how it might speak back to the larger project of feminist historiography. To pursue this investigation, I highlight two strands of scholarship that offer different theoretical approaches to feminist historiography than recovery and gender analysis. The two strands of scholarship I consider here are investigative trajectories that explore the rhetorical practice of remembering and the rhetorical process of gendering. While I...


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