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ERIC Number: ED398584
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Mar
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Transcending the Rhetorical Situation: Ethos and Rachel Speght.
Combs, Debra
Rachel Speght, a London (England) minister's daughter, was not yet 20 years old when she wrote her first pamphlet. In it and her other works, she attempted to transcend patriarchal discourses that sought to both define her identity and determine the limits of her rhetorical situation. Women's ontological status, as derived from orthodox Renaissance Protestantism and as expressed in Speght's pamphlet and elsewhere, delineated the behaviors considered ethical for women. Early modern beliefs about gender decorum defined women's primary tropes and relegated women's work to the preservation of men's acquisitions. Women were to be ensconced "safely" at home--specifically discouraged from tapping into the newly popular channel of print. Women were "written upon" by the oral text of the community's gossip about them. Within such constraints, Rachel Speght's voice subversively constructed her identity as a good, yet individuated, woman. Her obedience in her ethos resulted, in part, from her use of her sources: Much of Speght's work relies on Biblical material, Saints' lives, and Christian doctrine for evidence. Speght argues repeatedly for a redefinition of women's essential nature by shifting the Bible's negative, essentializing statements about the nature of women to situated statements about women and men in historical time. Her attempt to transcend her rhetorical situation can teach students much about how feminism can function outside of modern and post-modern expectations and about how the character of the speaker, her culture, and her words can merge to create an empowered, individuated ethos. (Contains 14 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A