Nan Johnson demonstrates that once the Civil warfare, nonacademic or “parlor” traditions of rhetorical functionality helped to maintain the icon of the white center classification lady as queen of her family sphere via selling a code of rhetorical habit for girls that required the functionality of traditional femininity. via a lucid exam of the bounds of that gendered rhetorical space—and the controversy approximately who may still occupy that space—Johnson explores the codes governing and hard the yank woman’s right rhetorical sphere within the postbellum years.
While males have been studying to evangelise, perform legislations, and set political regulations, ladies have been examining elocution manuals, letter-writing handbooks, and different behavior literature. those texts strengthened the conservative message that women’s phrases mattered, yet mattered as a rule in the house. Postbellum pedagogical fabrics have been designed to teach americans in rhetorical talents, yet additionally they over and over directed the yank girl to the family sphere as her right rhetorical area. even if those fabrics looked as if it would urge the white heart type girls to develop into powerful audio system and writers, conference dictated woman’s position was once on the hearthside the place her rhetorical abilities have been for use in counseling and educating as a mom and wife.
Aided by means of twenty-one illustrations, Johnson has meticulously compiled fabrics from old texts now not available to most people and, in so doing, has illuminated this intersection of rhetoric and feminism within the 19th century. The rhetorical pedagogies designed for a postbellum well known viewers symbolize the cultural websites the place a rethinking of women’s roles turns into open controversy approximately the way to price their phrases. Johnson argues this period of uneasiness approximately moving gender roles and the icon of the “quiet lady” needs to be regarded as proof of the necessity for a extra whole revaluing of women’s area in old discourse.