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Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope

Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope

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Cheryl Glenn


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Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms


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About the Book

Rhetoric and feminism have yet to coalesce into a singular recognizable field. In this book, author Cheryl Glenn advances the feminist rhetorical project by introducing a new theory of rhetorical feminism. Clarifying how feminist rhetorical practices have given rise to this innovative approach, Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope equips the field with tools for a more expansive and productive dialogue.
Glenn’s rhetorical feminism offers an alternative to hegemonic rhetorical histories, theories, and practices articulated in Western culture. This alternative theory engages, addresses, and supports feminist rhetorical practices that include openness, authentic dialogue and deliberation, interrogation of the status quo, collaboration, respect, and progress. Rhetorical feminists establish greater representation and inclusivity of everyday rhetors, disidentification with traditional rhetorical practices, and greater appreciation for alternative means of delivery, including silence and listening. These tenets are supported by a cogent reconceptualization of the traditional rhetorical appeals, situating logos alongside dialogue and understanding, ethos alongside experience, and pathos alongside valued emotion.
Threaded throughout the book are discussions of the key features of rhetorical feminism that can be used to negotiate cross-boundary mis/understandings, inform rhetorical theories, advance feminist rhetorical research methods and methodologies, and energize feminist practices within the university. Glenn discusses the power of rhetorical feminism when applied in classrooms, the specific ways it inspires and sustains mentoring, and the ways it supports administrators, especially directors of writing programs. Thus, the innovative theory of rhetorical feminism—a theory rich with tactics and potentially broad applications—opens up a new field of research, theory, and practice at the intersection of rhetoric and feminism. 


Cheryl Glenn is Distinguished Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University, the director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric there, and a coeditor of the Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms series of books. Her publications include Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance; Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence; Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts; and Rhetoric and Writing Studies in the New Century: Historiography, Pedagogy, and Politics.


“As readers of previous works by Glenn have come to expect, her writing at both the structural and line-by-line level is straightforward and clear. Readers don’t have to strain to discern, nor is meaning occluded or filled with jargon-laded prose, fitting the inclusive mission of rhetorical feminism. . . . Hope, as the title suggests, undergirds the entire book, and I finish the text persuaded to be hopeful, mindful that my positionality and investment in the field leave me a receptive reader.”—Charlotte HoggRhetoric Review

A tour de force through the trajectory of feminist rhetorics, Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope turns away from hegemonic rhetoric and the Western rhetorical canon, reappraising rhetorical engagement to consider “attention to marginalized audiences; respect for vernaculars, experiences, and emotion; a reshaping of the rhetorical appeals; and uses of alternative delivery systems”"—Margaret Goss & Stephanie R. Larson, Rhetoric Society Quarterly

“Glenn’s thoroughly researched work on feminism and rhetoric crystalizes issues, resolves many theoretical incompatibilities, provides a spectrum of methodologies for analysis and criticism, and offers an emotionally elegant plea of hope for the future of rhetorical feminism. Without question, the most coherent, thorough, and insightful treatment of the subject that I have read.”—Richard Leo Enos, author of Greek Rhetoric before Aristotle

“Cheryl Glenn’s latest opus is a book rhetoricians engaged in public life have been waiting for, a work by a distinguished scholar anchored in both rhetoric and feminism. In eight eloquent chapters Glenn develops a compelling argument for moving rhetorical feminism from highbrow scholarship into its larger transformative virtue, or ‘hope.' This is engaged scholarship at its most luminous and destined to be a reference work for many years to come.”—Philippe-Joseph Salazar, author of Words Are Weapons: Inside ISIS’s Rhetoric of Terror

Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope serves two important functions: it provides readers a historical account of how the field of feminist rhetoric emerged within rhetoric and composition studies; it also provides a new concept and theory, rhetorical feminism, which Glenn offers as a means for working toward ‘equality, social justice, coalition across differences, inclusion, representation, and ever-developing rhetorical effectiveness.’”—Krista Ratcliffe, coeditor of Rhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education

“When you open the pages of Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope you are in for an invigorating ride. From Glenn’s meticulous overview of the relationship between feminism and rhetoric to her framework for and exploration of what she identifies as “rhetorical feminism,” to her transformative discussion of methods and methodologies, to her wise (and often witty) advice about teaching, mentoring, and administering—this book speaks eloquently and passionately to the work we must do to inhabit and perform rhetorical feminism. Best of all, it gives reasons to trust in “this thing called hope.”Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope—Andrea A. Lunsford, author of EasyWriter