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Feminist Rhetorical Practices

Feminist Rhetorical Practices

New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies

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Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
200 pages, 6 x 9

Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms


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About the Book

From two leading scholars in the field comes this landmark assessment of the shifting terrain of feminist rhetorical practices in recent decades. Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch contend the field of rhetorical studies is being transformed through the work of feminist rhetoricians who have brought about notable changes in who the subjects of rhetorical study can be, how their practices can be critiqued, and how the effectiveness and value of the inquiry frameworks can be articulated.

To contextualize a new and changed landscape for narratives in the history of rhetoric, Royster and Kirsch present four critical terms of engagement—critical imagination, strategic contemplation, social circulation, and globalization—as the foundation for a new analytical model for understanding, interpreting, and evaluating feminist rhetorical inquiry and the study and teaching of rhetoric in general. This model draws directly on the wealth of knowledge and understanding gained from feminist rhetorical practices, especially sensitivity toward meaningfully and respectfully rendering the work, lives, cultures, and traditions of historical and contemporary women in rhetorical scholarship.

Proposing ambitious new standards for viewing and valuing excellence in feminist rhetorical practice, Royster and Kirsch advocate an ethos of respect and humility in the analysis of communities and specific rhetorical performances neglected in rhetorical history, recasting rhetorical studies as a global phenomenon rather than a western one. They also reflect on their own personal and professional development as researchers as they highlight innovative feminist research over the past thirty years to articulate how feminist work is changing the field and pointing to the active participation of women in various discourse arenas and to the practices and genres they use.

Valuable to new and established scholars of rhetoric, Feminist Rhetorical Practice: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies is essential for understanding the theoretical, methodological, and ethical impacts of feminist rhetorical studies on the wider field.

Winner, 2014 Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award


Jacqueline Jones Royster is a professor of English and Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her previous books include Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change among African American Women, and Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003.
Gesa E. Kirsch is a professor of English and Co-founder of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Bentley University in Waltham, MA. Her previous publications include Ethical Dilemmas in Feminist Research: The Politics of Location, Interpretation, and Publication, Women Writing the Academy: Audience, Authority, and Transformation; and several co-edited collections, most recently, Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process.


Royster, Jacqueline Jones. Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies, by Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch. Southern Illinois, 2012. 180p bibl index afp ISBN 9780809330690 pbk, $35.00; ISBN 9780809330706 e-book, $35.00

Royster (Georgia Tech) and Kirsch (Bentley Univ.), both well-established scholars, propose a future for feminist rhetorical practice. The book's first section, “A Call for Action in Research, Teaching, and Learning,” begins with the authors' intellectual biographies, a familiar feminist practice, thus identifying their political vantage points. Part 2, “Re-visioning History, Theory, and Practice,” reviews the literature of the last quarter century, highlighting changes from the formerly hegemonic Western white male point of view. Part 3, “Recasting Paradigms for Inquiry, Analysis, and Interpretation,” most interestingly dissects the methods inherent in various feminist scholars’ work, expands on their methods, and provides a “how to” on emulating them. Here the authors introduce methods of thinking about writing that one can implement in lower-level classes and, beyond that, make clear that the “intellectual” and the “emotional” and “ethical” are complementary processes. The authors then link their solid overview of feminist rhetorical history to an innovative range of pedagogical and writing practices. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.—B. A. McGowan, Northern Illinois University