Refiguring Rhetorical Education: Women Teaching African American, Native American, and Chicano/a Students, 1865-1911 examines the work of five female teachers who challenged gendered and cultural expectations to create teaching practices that met the civic and cultural needs of their students.
The volume analyzes Lydia Maria Child’s The Freedmen’s Book, a post–Civil War educational textbook for newly freed slaves; Zitkala Ša’s autobiographical essays published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1900 that questioned the work of off-reservation boarding schools for Native American students; and Jovita Idar, Marta Peña, and Leonor Villegas de Magnón’s contributions to the Spanish-language newspaper La Crónica in 1910 and 1911—contributions that offered language and cultural instruction their readers could not receive in Texas public schools.
Author Jessica Enoch explores the possibilities and limitations of rhetorical education by focusing on the challenges that Child, Zitkala Ša, Idar, Peña, and Villegas made to dominant educational practices. Each of these teachers transformed their seemingly apolitical occupation into a site of resistance, revising debilitating educational methods to advance culture-based and politicized teachings that empowered their students to rise above their subjugated positions.
Refiguring Rhetorical Education considers how race, culture, power, and language are both implicit and explicit in discussions of rhetorical education for marginalized students and includes six major tenets to guide present-day pedagogies for civic engagement.