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ENOS, Richard Leo

Winter 2002, pages 65-81

The Archaeology of Women in Rhetoric: Rhetorical Sequencing as a Research Method for Historical Scholarship

Abstract: For well over a decade, a number of scholars have argued that a more thorough and representative account of the history of rhetoric can only take place after women are accurately included in the rhetorical tradition. If we are to provide a sensitive accounting of women in the rhetorical tradition, current methods of, and perspectives on, historical research need to be reconsidered and adjusted in three respects. First, our mentality toward rhetoric must expand beyond civic, agonistic discourse to include alternative modes of expression used by women. Second, our efforts to discover primary evidence must intensify so that a more representative body of sources becomes available. This expanded body of evidence must include non-traditional sources that provide insight to the oral and literate practices of women. Third, historians of rhetoric must create methods of research and analysis that will provide a more sensitive accounting of primary material than current historical methods were designed to yield. This essay argues that these needs can be met by an archaeological approach to historical rhetoric. A method called "rhetorical sequencing" is offered as an heuristic to facilitate historical research on women in the rhetorical tradition.
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