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Rhetoric, History, and Women's Oratorical Education: American Women Learn to Speak

David Gold and Catherine L. Hobbs, eds.


Routledge, 2013

Historians of rhetoric have long worked to recover women's education in reading and writing, but have only recently begun to explore women's speaking practices, from the parlor to the platform to the varied types of institutions where women learned elocutionary and oratorical skills in preparation for professional and public life. This book fills an important gap in the history of rhetoric and suggests new paths for the way histories may be told in the future, tracing the shifting arc of women's oratorical training as it develops from forms of eighteenth-century rhetoric into institutional and extra-institutional settings at the end of the nineteenth century and diverges into several distinct streams of community-embodied theory and practice in the twentieth.

Treating key rhetors, genres, settings, and movements from the early republic to the present, these essays collectively challenge and complicate many previous claims made about the stability and development of gendered public and private spheres, the decline of oratorical culture and the limits of women's oratorical forms such as elocution and parlor rhetorics, and women's responses to rhetorical constraints on their public speaking. Enriching our understanding of women's oratorical education and practice, this work makes an important contribution to scholarship in rhetoric and communication. Chapters include:

  • Introduction: American Women Learn to Speak: New Forms of Inquiry into Women's Rhetorics —David Gold and Catherine L. Hobbs
  • 1. "By Women, You Were Brought Forth into This World": Cherokee Women's Oratorical Education in the Late Eighteenth Century —M. Amanda Moulder
  • 2. "A Vapour Which Appears but for a Moment": Oratory and Elocution for Girls during the Early American Republic —Carolyn Eastman
  • 3. Speaking and Writing in Conversation: Constructing the Voice of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis —Annmarie Valdes
  • 4. Negotiating Conflicting Views of Women and Elocution: Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, Florence Hartley, and Marietta Holley —Jane Donawerth
  • 5. "To Supply This Deficiency": Margaret Fuller's Boston Conversations as Hybrid Rhetorical Practice —Kristen Garrison
  • 6. "God Sees Me": Surveillance and Oratorical Training at Nineteenth-Century St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana —Elizabethada A. Wright
  • 7. The Arguments They Wore: The Role of the Neoclassical Toga in American Delsartism —Lisa Suter
  • 8. Womanly Eloquence and Rhetorical Bodies: Regendering the Public Speaker through Physical Culture —Paige V. Banaji
  • 9. Rethinking Etiquette: Emily Post's Rhetoric of Social Self-Reliance for American Women —Nancy Myers
  • 10. "Remember the World Is Not a Playground but a Schoolroom": Barbara Jordan's Early Rhetorical Education —Linda Ferreira-Buckley
  • 11. Learning Not to Preach: Evangelical Speaker Beth Moore and the Rhetoric of Constraint —Emily Murphy Cope