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BORDELON, Suzanne

Spring 2011, 41:2, pages 169 - 190

Participating on an “Equal Footing”: The Rhetorical Significance of California State Normal School in the Late Nineteenth Century

Abstract: This essay examines the rhetorical education that late-nineteenth-century women received at California State Normal School. The article complicates Gregory Clark and S. Michael Halloran's claim that during the nineteenth century, rhetorical theory and practice shifted from an oratorical to a professional culture by considering how gender, class, and region affected this transformation. Building on the research of Beth Ann Rothermel, this analysis also reveals that although experimentation concerning women's gender roles occurred in the northeast, it was more sustained in the West. California women generally faced fewer gender constraints than did women in northeastern state normal schools and were provided with more opportunity to learn typically masculine discourse practices.


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