Lecture by Bonnie Dow (Vanderbilt): "Writing the Revolution: Feminist Rhetorics of the Second Wave"
Sponsored by GSWS. Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center, the Year of Diversity, and the Dept. of Communication.
Abstract of talk:
The project focuses on documents produced by various feminist groups between 1966 and 1973, and its premise is that the U.S. second wave’s rhetorical multiplicity is too little recognized, either in public memory or in feminist rhetorical scholarship. That multiplicity was a product of and response to feminism’s imagined audiences, which varied considerably depending on the stage of the movement’s development, the diverse ideological commitments of the feminist groups producing public discourse, and the varying rhetorical purposes for that discourse. Audiences for feminist discourse included men as well as women; moreover, the women active in and targeted by different feminist factions varied not just in terms of race, class, and sexual identity, but also by age, movement affiliation, and political experience. Rhetorical scholarship on the second wave has rarely focused on such audience distinctions; rather, it has tended to assume that the primary target for most feminist rhetoric was a generic disempowered white woman, a supposition that dramatically reduces the rhetorical complexity and contradictions of feminist discourse.