Conversational Rhetoric: The Rise and Fall of a Women's Tradition, 1600-1900-Jane Donawerth

  • Title: Conversational Rhetoric: The Rise and Fall of a Women's Tradition, 1600-1900
  • Author: Jane Donawerth
  • Released: 2013-08-23
  • Language:
  • Pages: 230
  • ISBN: 0809332752
  • ISBN13: 978-0809332755
  • ASIN: 0809332752



“Jane Donawerth’s new book fills a significant gap in our understanding of both the history of women’s rhetorical practices and women rhetoricians’ influential contribution to theory and pedagogy. [This book] is certain to be required reading for historians of rhetoric and composition and feminist researchers alike.”—Nan Johnson, author of Gender and Rhetorical Space in American Life: 1866–1910


“Arguing that for women in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, the model for discourse was conversation, not public speaking, Donawerth draws on their treatises defending women’s education, their conduct books, their preaching, and their elocution manuals to demonstrate how women theorized the communication they took part in. Assiduously researched and beautifully written, this project’s contributions to our understanding of women’s rhetorical traditions is, in a word, magnificent.”—Lucille M. Schultz, coauthor of Archives of Instruction: Nineteenth-Century Rhetorics, Readers, and Composition Books in the United States


“With her trademark intellectual energy and prowess, Jane Donawerth teaches us the many ways that women’s conversation delivers rhetorical power while simultaneously enacting rhetorical theory. Conversational artfulness equates with rhetorical competence, as Donawerth’s rhetorical analysis so amply displays. Donawerth set a formidable (transatlantic, three-century) task for herself, one she fulfilled admirably.”   —Cheryl Glenn, author of Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance and Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence


“Jane Donawerth is the historian of rhetoric who has done the most to establish the significance of conversation as a women’s genre. It is tremendously valuable to have her new and groundbreaking work here, in which she demonstrates that conversation forms the basis not only of premodern women’s rhetorical performance but more, of women’s rhetorical theorizing from the parlor to the pulpit and eventually onto the public platform.” —Patricia Bizzell, coeditor of The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present

“An excellent example of close textual analysis, use of diverse sources, theoretical interpretation, and bridging theory and context, this book would appeal to a variety of audiences ranging from undergraduate student to scholar. Most significantly, this history is a story about the power of rhetorical theory. Its interdisciplinary appeal and thorough analysis makes it an informative and enjoyable read, and a foundational contribution to the field of rhetorical theory and history.”— EMILY BERG PAUP, The College of St. Benedict’s and St. John’s University, printed in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 16:1, Spring 2013, published by Michigan State University Press

Donawerth, Jane. Conversational Rhetoric: TheRise and Fall of a Women's Tradition, 1600-1900. Southern Illinois, 2012. 205p bibl index afp ISBN 9780809330270, $60.00; ISBN 9780809386307 e-book, $60.00


This book's central argument is that women constructed theories of rhetoric based on conversation rather than on public speaking. Donawerth (English, Univ. of Maryland) gathers evidence from women's writings over three centuries. She contends that in treatises, dialogues, conduct and elocution handbooks, and publications on women's education and preaching, women argued that rhetorical power is gained and developed through conversation. Whether discourse is devised to cultivate the feminine, defend rights, or perform in the parlor or on the public stage, it originates in conversation. Donawerth cites writings by Madeleine de Scudery, Bathsua Makin, Mary Astell, Margaret Fell, Hannah More, Lydia Sigourney, Ellen Stewart, Hallie Quinn Brown, Frances Willard, and many others. Emphasizing the positive in a history of women rhetoricians restricted in education and constrained from public space, Donawerth changes the discussion from women as practitioners of rhetoric to women as theorists of rhetoric. A well-researched and significant addition to the literature on the history of rhetorical theory, this volume will be valuable in the fields of rhetoric, history, and women's studies. It joins Nan Johnson's Gender and Rhetorical Space in American life, 1866-1910 (CH, Sep'02, 40-0106) and Reclaiming Rhetorica.. Women in the Rhetorical Tradition, ed. by Andrea Lunsford (CH, Dec'95, 33-1926). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty/professionals. -- T. B. Dykeman, formerly, Fairfield University

(T.B. Dykeman CHOICE 2012-07-01) --This text refers to the edition.

About the Author Jane Donawerth is a professor of English at the University of Maryland and the editor of Rhetorical Theory by Women before 1900: An Anthology. pdf