Rhetorica Reclaimed, Andrea Lunsford, editor (1995)
Aimed to disrupt the “seamless narrative” of the rhetorical tradition and create space for other rhetorics, Rhetorica Reclaimed offers a series of rhetorical studies of women’s rhetorics, which both reread classical texts and recover and theorize a plethora of rhetorical forms, strategies, and goals not previously considered in the rhetorical tradition. To recover this body of rhetorics, rhetorical scholars take a historical approach to rhetorically analyze a wide variety of women’s rhetorics from antiquity through medieval times to the 20th century. In their recovery of rhetorics employed by figures such as Aspasia, Diotima, Margery Kempe, Mary Astell, Margaret Fuller, Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth, and Julia Kristeva, feminist historiographers also rely heavily on gender analysis, genre analysis and draw on feminist and postcolonial theories. As these scholars demonstrate, recovery of women’s rhetorics demand a turn toward alternative sites of oral and written persuasion used both in the public and private domain. The wide range of sites include: speeches, autobiographies, letters, fragments of classical texts, syllabi and other teaching materials, articles, lectures, scholarly work, and pamphlets. Common strategies identified in women’s rhetorics across time and cultures include rhetorical strategies such as breaking silence; subverting traditional genres; naming in personal terms or truth telling; employing dialogics, recognizing and using the power of conversation; and valuing collaboration. As well as diversity in terms of sites and strategies, studies of women’s rhetorics reveal that multiple purposes were achieved in women’s rhetorical practices that include but are not limited to: empowerment of self and audience, inspiration, motivation, theoretical enlightenment, survival, self-expression, conversation, self-definition, articulation of fears, and promotion of action.
Included in this anthology is Susan Jarrat and Rory Ong’s article “Rhetoric, Gender and Colonial Ideology,” which along with Cheryl Glenn’s work on Aspasia stimulated a series of debates about truth, evidence, and history. In Jarrat and Ong’s article, the authors attend to questions of whether or not Aspasia existed, how we can come to know Aspasia, and what kinds of historiographical tasks are required to read Aspasia–as rhetorician–into the rhetorical tradition. Jarrat and Ong argue that the recovery of Aspasia in classical texts such as Menexenus reveal that Aspasia “marks the intersection of discourses on gender and colonialism, production and reproduction, rhetoric and philosophy[ which] makes her a rich site for interpretative work” (10). Jarratt and Ong employ their imagination in recovering what roles Aspasia might have played in sophistic rhetorics by analyzing the ways in which Plato gave voice to Aspasia. It is this use of imagination, perhaps, that lead Gale to raise concerns about historiographical recovery work.