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Author Sells, Laura R
Title Toward a feminist critical rhetoric: Subjectivity, performance, and the body in feminist public address
book jacket
Descript 260 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 58-11, Section: A, page: 4127
Major Professor: Marsha L. Vanderford
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 1997
Heavily invested in the modernist paradigm of public address, feminist rhetoric and public address scholarship remains tied to the modernist approaches it attempts to challenge. These traditional approaches operate on three key presumptions: the rigid dichotomy between text and context that reifies and ontologizes rhetorical texts; the binary between objectivity and subjectivity that certifies a "right way" of reading texts; and fixed notions of subjecthood and authorship that guarantee the masculinity of the orator. Fixed within this paradigm, and focused on stereotypical gender attributes, feminist public address reproduces the rigid gender dichotomies that maintain woman speaker as an oxymoron. As a result, current feminist critical practices are politically and theoretically untenable for anti-essentialist feminist agendas
Critical rhetoric offers a strong challenge to the modernist biases of traditional public address and rhetorical criticism. Yet this orientation remains male-focused and develops with little intervention from feminist rhetorical studies
The project advanced in this dissertation straddles feminist public address and critical rhetoric in order to propose a feminist critical rhetoric. To accomplish this goal, the theoretical ground of feminist public address, the oxymoron of woman speaker, is first interrogated. Then alternative notions of gender found in the work of Judith Butler, and understandings of power relations found in the work of Michel Foucault, offer an escape from double bind of the oxymoron. The metaphor of the "drag queen," borrowed from Judith Butler, counters the fixed gender ideals perpetuated in feminist public address and lays groundwork to reconceive women's public address as performative, embodied, and transgressive. The Foucauldian notion that rhetoric is a technology of the self offers women speakers an opportunity to create themselves as speaking subjects through the performance of gendered orators
The approach developed here is then applied in two case studies. The first compares the rhetoric of the Disney film The Little Mermaid with Barbara Bush's Wellesley commencement address. The second case study examines media representations of Hillary Rodham and analyzes her three Wellesley speeches
School code: 0206
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 58-11A
Subject Women's Studies
Speech Communication
Mass Communications
Alt Author University of South Florida
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