Collaboration as rhetorical action: Angelina and Sarah Grimké's private correspondence, public oratory, and development of feminist theory

Date
2004-12-30
Authors
Spicer, Joy L.
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Abstract

This project augments the histories of nineteenth-century rhetoric by recovering the collaborative practices of Angelina and Sarah Grimké. It examines the rhetoric developed through the Grimkés' collaboration focusing on their written and oral texts, including unpublished writings. Archival papers examined in this study significantly increase the quantity of material to analyze. Therefore, this study more accurately maps the Grimkés' rhetorical strategies. The study shows that the Grimkés construct and maintain a feminist collaboration. In making this argument, the study follows several of the Grimkés' collaborative performances. First, it examines the Grimkés' own view of their collaboration as seen through private correspondence. Having explored the Grimkés' relationship, the study examines how the Grimkés respond to the exigencies and constraints surrounding prejudice against women as lecturers. Finally, in order to show the Grimkés' tactics for change, this study identifies their specific rhetorical techniques.

The study demonstrates that rhetorical analysis is a key tool for remapping efforts involving inchoate texts. In particular, it presents a more extensive view of an historical event of which we have only had a glimpse up to now: Angelina's three speeches before the Massachusetts Legislature. Because extant speeches from Angelina's public career consist of less than 3000 words, this remapping effort significantly increases our understanding of her rhetorical techniques. Moreover, this study shows intersections of the Grimkés' work and argues that their published feminist work is the result of a collaborative effort, not the work of Sarah alone. Examination of the Grimkés' works reveals that their collaboration resulted in shared metaphorical language that created a powerful ethos. This study invites students of history, communication studies, and feminist studies to see some of the rich nuances of the Grimkés' collaboration revealed through rhetorical analysis.

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Keywords
Social sciences, Language, literature, and linguistics, Collaboration, Feminist, Grimke, Angelina, Grimke, Sarah, Oratory, Private correspondence, Rhetorical action
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