Course code:




Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HY - History
  • HS - Human Studies

Typically offered:

Upon occasion

This seminar will provide an in-depth exploration of public speech texts by a wide array of 19th century woman suffrage activists in the United States. This includes works by those individuals most often associated with the first wave of the movement including: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Ernestine Rose, Lucy Stone, Anna Dickinson, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Adelle Hazlett, Victoria Woodhull, Anna Julia Cooper, and others. There will be a heavy emphasis on the close reading of primary source materials as students encounter these speakers “in their own words.” There are five main goals of this seminar. First, to familiarize students with the works of prominent suffrage and equal rights activists from the period. Second, to help illuminate how the ideas, choices, narratives, and arguments reflected in these texts have some relation to contemporary discourses of gender, power, and equality. Third, to offer students the opportunity to conduct close textual readings of significant texts in the field of public address. This seminar is rooted in what might be described as an experiential, grassroots approach to rhetorical criticism, one that is unconstrained by the needs of overly deterministic reading strategies. We will focus more on building a “theory of the case” from the ground up and through the eyes of the seminar participants, rather than subjecting each case to the demands of a predetermined comprehensive model of rhetorical action. The fourth goal of the class is to offer students the first hand opportunity to conduct their own “recovery” projects with the aim of locating, transcribing, documenting, and presenting to the class new variations of texts from the period that have been previously undocumented or left unaccounted for. In doing so, students will learn basic techniques for exploring the types of digitized historical collections that have emerged in only the past few years. The final goal for the seminar is to prompt an even broader series of questions about the relationship between text, society, and the “public.” These are questions that would obviously be salient for students of all interests. Class sessions will be organized as a weekly three hour seminar and will be predominantly discussion driven. Students will be responsible for presenting certain works and will also lead some of our discussions. Assignments will emphasize critical, reflective and analytical writing. Evaluation will be based on participation in class discussion, short written response papers, several longer essays, individual presentations, and a final “recovery” project.



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