Past Issue: 21-2:

Issue Introduction

Peitho 21.2 Spring 2019

Editor’s Welcome

Jen Wingard

All of this news is to say that as Peitho continues to grow, please continue to read and submit your work here. It is an exciting journal with a long history of feminist commitment and scholarly support in the field of rhetoric and composition. And it is certainly continuing to be a thriving place for intellectual work. 

Peitho 21.2 Table of Contents


Transforming the Value of Gendered Service through Institutional Culture Change

 Jennifer Heinert and Cassandra Phillips 

 Abstract: Using the lens of feminized labor, we argue that the ways in which the academy defines success are misaligned with the service that is required to fulfill the mission of our institutions and meet the learning needs of students. Those who perform feminized labor and service, particularly in Composition, are at a disadvantage in every way “success” is measured in the academy (teaching, professional development, and service). Transforming how feminized labor is valued involves reexamining institutional missions and then redefining service, research, workload, and expertise in a way that aligns labor with institutional values. This process includes a) redefining and assessing labor and workload in terms of how it supports the institutional mission; b) defining and assessing professional development as work that supports the institutional mission; and c) valuing, supporting, and developing the expertise that is required for sustaining the labor of institutions. 

Keywords: Feminized labor, service, gender, composition 


Administration, Emotional Labor, And Gendered Discourses Of Power: A Feminist Chair’s Mission To Make Service Matter

 Michelle Payne 

 Abstract: Michelle Masse’ and Katie Hogan’s edited collection, Over Ten Million Served (2010), argues that “complaining about service is not the same as critically analyzing service as a significant dimension of academic labor” (15). Nor, as Phillips and Heinert argue, is the admonition to “just say no” an ethical solution to the gendered inequity of academic labor. In this essay, I not only illustrate the consequences of saying yes to service and analyze its significance, but I illustrate the ways that service positioned me to advocate for change at my own institution. More specifically, I focus on the unique administrative role of the Department Chair, particularly in terms of the gendered emotional labor required to sustain an academic department and the “incongruous, gendered bureaucratic structures” (Bird) that have essentially institutionalized and naturalized “emotive dissonance” as an inevitable consequence of being a chair. I argue that interrogating this emotive dissonance—these “outlaw emotions”—is critical not only to exposing how those structures perpetuate inequity, but also to transforming gendered service and redefining the power and authority of academics, more generally. In making this argument, I draw upon sociological theories and research on emotion studies, research on academic administration, and my own administrative experience, including the strategies I developed based on my own “outlaw emotions” to disrupt these gendered discourses by 1) reconfiguring the definitions of and rewards for “service” within my department, and 2) initiating an institutional conversation about Department Chair labor that led to several policy changes. 

Keywords: Department Chair, English department, Emotional labor, Gender, Feminized labor, Higher education, Service

Is it Worth it to “Lean In” and Lead? On Being a Woman Department Chair in Rhetoric and Writing Studies

Eileen E. Schell

 Abstract: This essay will consider the specific challenges and opportunities of the gendered service of being a woman academic department chair. Questions addressing the timing, sacrifices, benefits, opportunities and effects on one’s life, both personal and professional, are likely to come to mind for women academics considering whether or not to become department chairs. To engage these questions, I draw on insights from feminist academic labor studies and intersectional higher education scholarship on the roles and challenges faced by women department chairs. I also draw on my own experiences serving a five-year term as a department chair. Through these two sites of inquiry, I analyze how the struggles women department chairs face are connected to specific patterns of feminized labor (Holbrook, Miller, Schell), embodied experience, and service across higher education, what Sharon Bird refers to as “incongruous, gendered bureaucratic structures” (204). I conclude with specific advice and strategies for those considering whether or not to take on the position of department chair. 

Keywords: Department Chair, Gender, Family Formation, Intersectionality, Service, Women leaders 

Advocating Comadrismo: A Feminist Mentoring Approach for Latinas in Rhetoric and Composition

 Ana Milena Ribero and Sonia C. Arellano 

 Abstract: This article outlines comadrismo as a culturally specific mentoring approach for Latinas in Rhetoric and Composition. The authors discuss the value of mentoring practices based on a kinship relationship and explore seven themes— kinship, fuerza, networks of care, empathy, collaboration, paying it forward, and tangible support—that constitute comadrismo mentoring. Grounded in the literature on mentoring in Rhetoric and Composition, this article draws on the experiential knowledges of Latina academics to argue that scholars must attend to the specific needs of Women of Color in order to recruit and retain diverse voices in the discipline. 

Keywords: Latinas, mentoring, retention 

Rhetorical Future(s) and Accounting for Rhetorical Debt

 Kellie Sharp-Hoskins 

 Abstract: This article posits accounting for rhetorical debt as a feminist attitude and practice that acknowledges how our futures are bound to and bound by our rhetorical accounts. The accounts we offer, I argue, construct rhetorical boundaries for our work, which not only point to our rhetorical futures—what is made possible, recognizable, and important by our accounts—but our rhetorical debts. After tracking out the complicated rhetorical affordances (and constraints) of the economic implications of debt, I review feminist and decolonial scholarly practices of acknowledging rhetorical terministic and genealogical debts. Building on this work, I suggest that scholars must acknowledge both explicit debts as well as the conditions of possibility that allow them to emerge. 

Keywords: accounting, credit decolonization, debt, economics, feminist practice, futures, rhetoric 

Electric Girl No More: Nineteenth-Century Technofeminism, Constructions of Physical Strength, and Scientific Expertise

 Elizabeth Lowry 

 Abstract: Lulu Hurst, an iconic nineteenth-century “electric girl”—that is, a young female performer ostensibly endowed with extraordinary strength— uses her autobiography to explain scientifically how her stage illusions are accomplished. Hence, Hurst helps to create a new social identity for women when she trades in the mythos of supernatural strength for an unusual Victorian-era scenario: a woman “expert” in science. Drawing on Sarah Hallenbeck’s scholarship on “technofeminism” I argue that Hurst helped to transform perceptions about women’s bodies by resisting the fetishization of feminine weakness; challenging exoticized and mystical explanations for feminine strength; and creating a rhetorical space for women in scientific discourse. 

Keywords: Women, technofeminism, science, nineteenth-century, performance, identity, supernatural, morality, literacy 

Toward a Rhetoric of Body as Space

 Kelly A. Moreland 

 Abstract: This article introduces a rhetoric of body as space that exemplifies historical-cultural embodiment, rhetorical embodiment, and physical embodiment as points of analysis. To illustrate the theory the author constructs Precious, the protagonist of Sapphire’s novel Push, as a rhetorical space, employing Roxanne Mountford’s notion of rhetorical space as a springboard. Bringing in additional theories of embodiment, disability, and trauma, the article proposes that the rhetorical space of Precious’ body affects her (in)ability to achieve self-acceptance by the story’s end. The example application suggests that a theory of body as space allows for further exploration into embodied rhetoric as feminist rhetorical practice. 

Keywords: embodiment, space, feminism and rhetoric, material rhetoric, rhetorical theory 

Facebook Feminism: Moderating Story and Visibility in Pantsuit Nation

 Alicia Brazeau 

 Abstract: This essay examines the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group as one example of an emerging digital, feminist, rhetorical tradition. Drawing on recent research of political activism online, I analyze the implications of Pantsuit Nation’s assertion that “storytelling is activism.” In particular, I demonstrate how the Facebook group invites participants to engage in an ongoing, moderated construction of feminist identities and values through the use of shared narrative frames. Given the popularity of politicized social media groups like Pantsuit Nation, I assert that identity-based and story-based platforms such as Facebook are uniquely well-suited for inviting new participants into a feminist and political action, and afford members and moderators the ability to continuously revise and expand community narratives. 

Keywords: Social media, storytelling, identity, intersectionality, politics 

Learning from The Identity Project: Accountability-Based Strategies for Intersectional Analyses in Queer and Feminist Rhetoric

 Laura Tetreault 

 Abstract: This article forwards a rhetorical methodology based on the concept of accountability, responding to recent calls in rhetoric and composition for more work on activism across differences in positionality. An accountability-based framework for rhetorical analysis shifts the questions researchers of activist rhetorics can ask in order to foster practices that are more responsible to communities facing intersecting oppressions. To demonstrate this methodology, the article engages in an accountability-based rhetorical analysis of an example of queer digital arts activism, The Identity Project. Asking to whom and for what an example of activist rhetoric is accountable, in what ways, and with what effects can offer a productive way for researchers to analyze such rhetorics in a way that moves beyond a limiting oppression/resistance or assimilation/radicalism framework. 

Keywords: Activist rhetorics; digital activism; artivism; research methods; feminist rhetorics; intersectionality; queer rhetorics; race; colonialism; social justice 

Applying Archival Methods and Methodologies to Public Open Records

 Jessica Estep 

 Abstract: This article examines the public comments citizens submit to local government agencies and explains how those texts can be incorporated into archival research practices. The central case study traces the processes a statewide government agency—the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)— undertook to solicit citizen feedback about a major public works project and the two thousand comments that GDOT received in response. Through a rhetorical analysis of these texts, the author argues that feminist scholars have a responsibility to encourage transparency in public engagement processes by accessing and analyzing open records, offering up competing narratives when possible. 

Keywords: archives, open records, public engagement, transportation, public rhetoric, feminist methodologies 

Book Reviews

Digital Curation as Collaborative Archival Method in Feminist Rhetorics

 Pamela VanHaitsma and Cassandra Book 

 Abstract: Our essay advocates for digital curation as a collaborative archival method for feminist research and pedagogy. Based on our work together in a graduate seminar, we describe a repurposing of the Pinterest platform to feminist curatorial ends. Specifically, our class used Pinterest to collaboratively curate existing archives, construct new “lower-case-a archives,” and build community as history was made in the present. We argue that such digital curation is fruitful for scholars interested in bringing together our field’s established strengths in feminist historiography with emergent digital communication technologies. 

Keywords: curation, digital, collaboration, archives, historiography, methods, Pinterest 

Review of Bessette, Jean. Retroactivism in the Lesbian Archives: Composing Past and Futures. Southern Illinois UP, 2017. 202 pages.

 Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne 

Review of Booher, Amanda K. and Jung, Julie. Feminist Rhetorical Science Studies: Human Bodies, Posthumanist Worlds. Southern Illinois UP, 2018. 260 pages.

 Erin A. Frost 

Review of Lorimer Leonard, Rebecca. Writing on the Move: Migrant Women and the Value of Literacy. U of Pittsburgh P, 2017. 182 pages.

 Kaia Simon 

Review of Vinson, Jenna. Embodying the Problem: The Persuasive Power of the Teen Mother. Rutgers UP, 2018. 236 pages.

 Kim Hensley Owens 

Review of Walden, Sarah W. Tasteful Domesticity: Women’s Rhetoric & the American Cookbook 1790-1940. U of Pittsburgh P, 2018. 220 pages.

 Elizabeth J. Fleitz