Rival Radical Feminists₋ Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells: The Rhetorical Slugfest of Two Nineteenth-Century Queen Bees Over Lynching

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Rival Radical Feminists considers the role of gender and race as master status determining traitsand examines them as influential social markers of identity and representation within a nineteenth-century feminist social movement (FSM)—the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Rival Radical Feminists examines how, within a FSM where gender issues understandably govern the political narrative that the philosophical core of the movement shifts into separate and competing spheres when gender issues intersect with racial prejudice? Specifically, Rival Radical Feminists argues that when both political actors are female, with one circumscribed politically by her gender, like Willard, and the other by both her race and her gender, like Wells, issues of power and conflict over these master status positions vie for rhetorical and ideological dominance within a FSM. Further inquiries are: Which identity representation dominates? Why? What are the historical, political, and social conditions that allow such transformation? How do they influence the geographical, political, economic, and social locations for women, both black and white, within the private and public sphere, then and now? Finally, what are the circumstances, which allow some marginal groups membership into the political culture while refusing other marginal groups access?

Rival Radical Feminists draws from several scholarly domains to examine a constellationof issues surrounding the rhetoric of Willard and Wells over lynching. For example, it explores the Reconstruction Era and the Reconstruction Amendments (13th, 14th, and 15th) to interconnect and situate the robust (re) representation of white women and free black women before, during, and after the Civil War to gain citizenship. Rival Radical Feminists evaluates theories of identity politics, critical race theory, geographies of space, feminist social movement rhetoric, and visual rhetoric to assess the perspective of gender and race. Finally, Rival Radical Feminists examines ethics, morality, religion, and nineteenth-century feminist activism to analyze and provide incisive rhetorical inquiry into the transformation of becoming for women as America shifted from slavery to a post-slavery nation.


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Texas at El Paso, 2009.

Dissertation Presented to the faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at El Paso n Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of English, The University of Texas at El Paso, August 2009.