Constellating White Women’s Cultural Rhetorics: The Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and Its Contemporary Scholars

Tessa Brown

Abstract: This article reconsiders the rhetorical legacy of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, a Southern postbellum organizing group, in light of emerging scholarship on cultural rhetorics and critical whiteness studies as well as popular critiques of white womanhood by women of color writing online. Using cultural rhetorics methodologies of constellating, critical reflexivity, and affirmative hyperlinking, the author articulates white women’s rhetorical practices of appropriation, exclusion, and tokenism, locating these practices both in the archival records of the ASWPL as well as in contemporary rhetorical scholarship on the group. By returning to the archives of the group’s founder, Jessie Daniel Ames, the article shows that the founding of the ASWPL was an explicitly segregationist act and critiques appraisals of the group as successful at ending lynching. The article advocates situating the group’s legacy within richer histories of Black women’s anti-lynching activism and taking up the call made by digital writers of color to include white appropriation and erasure in discussions of fair use, intellectual property, and plagiarism. 

Keywords: whiteness, white feminism, critical race theory, cultural rhetorics, fair use, ASWPL 


Brown, Tessa. "Constellating White Women's Cultural Rhetorics: The Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and Its Contemporary Scholars." Peitho 20.2 (2018): 233-60.