Ede, Glenn, Lundsford, “Border Crossings: Intersections of Rhetoric and Feminism”

Ede, Lisa, Cheryl Glenn, and Andrea Lunsford. “Border Crossings: Intersections of Rhetoric and Feminism.” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 13.4 (Autumn 1995): 401-441. (42 pages)

Ede, Glenn, and Lunsford use the guiding metaphor of borderlands to discuss the intersections between rhetoric (through the canons) and feminism. Such comparison is possible because of the interdisciplinarity and plasticity of rhetoric.

On Invention and Memory. The authors see these two canons tied closely to one another: “invention, the heart and soul of inquiry” and “memory, the very substance of knowledge” (410). The overlap between these two canons has historical basis; referencing Crowley, she notes that “memory was not only a system of recollection…; it was a means of invention” because memory offered a structured heuristic system (410). However, such an overlap is particularly salient among feminists; as the authors write, “contemporary feminists have implicitly sought to expand the canon of invention, they have often done so by linking it to memory” (413). Notably, feminists often use memories of personal lived experiences as a source of invention. Such knowledge—based on personal, lived experience—is valued and accepted as important and significant for feminists.

hooks writes that in inventing, one must “incorporate…a sense of place, of not just who I am in the present but where I am coming from, the multiple voices within me…When I say then that these words emerge from suffering, I refer to that personal struggle to name the location from which I came to voice” (412). Memories are also pointed outward to the future: a “retrospection to gain a vision for the future” (413).

On Arrangement. Referring specifically to Foss & Griffin, the authors write that their concept of invitational rhetoric invokes patterns of arrangement that disrupt the traditional concept of rhetoric as an intent to persuade as an act of violence. For example, feminists such as Fuller use a conversational and collaborative structural pattern as opposed to traditional means of argumentation. Feminists resist and actively run against masculine logics of rationality by embracing alternative logics, “those that value indeterminacy, nonclosure, and multiplicity of meanings” (418).

On Style. In traditional definitions of rhetoric, rhetoricians often warn against conceptions that pit style as a notion of “dress of thought” (Corbett), ”cookery”, and “beauty-culture” (Plato’s Gorgias) (419-20). Implicit in these caveats is the impression that the rejection of style in this fashio0n “necessitated the exclusion of women from the rhetorical scene; for how could women, with their inferior reason and their involvement in the stylish, the embodied, and the material, hope to attain such rigorous rationality?” (420).

In light of these arguments, the authors allude to some ways that feminists have employed style which often raises issues of power, ethics, politics, and identity. For example, some feminists “adhere to the stylistic conventions of traditional western discourse—conventions that sharply dichotomize the public and the private, that devalue personal experiences in favor of ‘objective’ facts, ‘rational’ logic, and established authorities” (423). The authors refer to this as a double bind. Other women have attempted to forge new styles and alternative discourses. Still others, like Anzaldua, “portray the various stylistic borderings they inhabit by blending English, Spanish, and Spanglish…in so doing, they not only portray the multiple realities through which they live and write, but also provide opportunities for others to experience such multiplicities” (426).

On Delivery. As the authors write,” each rhetorical act culminates in delivery” (429). Defiend by Biesecker, rhetoric’s distinctive feature is its focus on public address (hence delivery); however, the public is “a realm which women as a class have historically been denied access” (430). Accordingly, feminists/women gained access to rhetoric and public by altering the medium “in whatever ways would allow them to speak (through the writings of others, for example), even if those voices reached no attentive audience for centuries” (431). Those such as Sojourner Truth, in fact, used her body as a way to show how the messenger is the message: “delivery as the ‘language of the body’” (434-5).

The authors also discuss Ann Richards and her speech at the DNC in 1988, specifically noting the multi-media ways she accessed a range of delivery systems: “Richards speaks aloud from her written text to a ‘live’ audience as well as to the audiences who hear her on the radio, watch and listen to her on television, and read excerpts from her speech in the newspaper—a merger of electronic, written, and oral media” (436).


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