Highlights feminist rhetorical practices that disrupt and surpass boundaries of time and space
In 1917, Alice Paul and other suffragists famously picketed in front of the White House while holding banners with short, pithy sayings such as “Mr. President: How long must women wait for Liberty?” Their juxtaposition of this short phrase with the image of the White House (a symbol of liberty and justice) relies on the same rhetorical tactics as memes, a genre contemporary feminists use frequently to make arguments about reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, sex-positivity, and more. Many such connections between feminists of different spaces, places, and eras have yet to be considered, let alone understood. Feminist Connections: Rhetoric and Activism across Time, Space, and Place reconsiders feminist rhetorical strategies as linked, intergenerational, and surprisingly consistent despite the emergence of new forms of media and intersectional considerations.
Contributors to this volume highlight continuities in feminist rhetorical practices that are often invisible to scholars, obscured by time, new media, and wildly different cultural, political, and social contexts. Thus, this collection takes a nonchronological approach to the study of feminist rhetoric, grouping chapters by rhetorical practice rather than time, content, or choice of media.
By connecting historical, contemporary, and future trajectories, this collection develops three feminist rhetorical frameworks: revisionary rhetorics, circulatory rhetorics, and response rhetorics. A theorization of these frameworks explains how feminist rhetorical practices (past and present) rely on similar but diverse methods to create change and fight oppression. Identifying these strategies not only helps us rethink feminist rhetoric from an academic perspective but also allows us to enact feminist activist rhetorics beyond the academy during a time in which feminist scholarship cannot afford to remain behind its hallowed yet insular walls.
Labels traditionally ascribed to women—mother, angel of the house, whore, or bitch—suggest character traits that do not encompass the complexities of women’s identities or empower women’s public speaking. Rethinking Ethos: A Feminist Ecological Approach to Rhetoric redefines the concept of ethos—classically thought of as character or credibility—as ecological and feminist, negotiated and renegotiated, and implicated in shifting power dynamics. Building on previous feminist and rhetorical scholarship, this essay collection presents a sustained discussion of the unique methods by which women’s ethos is constructed and transformed.
Editors Kathleen J. Ryan, Nancy Myers, and Rebecca Jones identify three rhetorical maneuvers that characterize ethos in the feminist ecological imaginary: ethe as interruption/interrupting, ethe as advocacy/advocating, and ethe as relation/relating. Each section of the book explores one of these rhetorical maneuvers. An afterword gathers contributors’ thoughts on the collection’s potential impact and influence, possibilities for future scholarship, and the future of feminist rhetorical studies.
With its rich mix of historical examples and contemporary case studies, Rethinking Ethos offers a range of new perspectives, including queer theory, transnational approaches, radical feminism, Chicana feminism, and indigenous points of view, from which to consider a feminist approach to ethos.