ENGL489W - Women's Rhetoric to 1900

This course will begin with a brief review of the classical masculine tradition of communication in public speaking—Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero—and then examine theories by women, many of which emphasize conversation—from Aspasia to Pan Chao, Mary Astell, Frances Willard (President of the powerful WCTU), and Hallie Quinn Brown (African American elocutionist). We will also read a sampling of women's rhetoric from Queen Elizabeth I to women preachers and satirists and slaves, to suffragettes and abolitionists. We will consider whether women develop a feminine tradition of rhetoric, where women publish their theories and proclaim their ideas if they are denied college and public speaking, and how women's theories might be used for interpretation of women's writings and speeches. We will enrich our discussions by reading online scholarly articles on the history of women's rhetoric. This course will be primarily a discussion class with students participating every class period. Discussion will be encouraged in the group as a whole by in-class writing and by small group discussion. In addition, students will give reports on the biographies of women writers, and will lead panel discussions of the critical readings. Requirements include midterm and final in-class examinations, two short papers (4-5 pages each; the first with REQUIRED revision), and class participation (discussion, report or panel, and attendance).