Regendering Delivery: The Fifth Canon and Antebellum Women Rhetors
Lindal Buchanan thoroughly analyzes how antebellum women infiltrated the male-dominated realm of public speaking by adapting elocutionary instruction to subversive ends, developing distinctive delivery styles, and reconciling conflicting public and private roles. By detailing the education and oratorical practices of pioneering female public speakers, Regendering Delivery: The Fifth Canon and Antebellum Women Rhetors theorizes how gender impacted the fifth rhetorical canon of delivery and how cultural constructions of the feminine have shaped public performance.
Buchanan argues that restrictive gender norms encouraged antebellum women rhetors to develop unique styles and methods of rhetorical production and performance. She examines how schoolgirls devised ways to learn and practice elocution in academic settings and how women developed inventive delivery strategies to maintain the appearance of femininity even as they participated in conventionally masculine discursive activities from general public speaking to political lobbying. She also identifies collaborative methods that enabled antebellum women to negotiate conflicts between their domestic and rhetorical commitments and thus reach public platforms
Assessing the calculable impact of gender on rhetorical performance, Buchanan maintains that delivery holds particular sexual and textual connotations for women rhetors. Regendering Delivery notably contributes to ongoing feminist efforts to incorporate women into the rhetorical tradition by probing such gendered—and largely overlooked—aspects of oratorical delivery as cultural context, gender norms, elocutionary education, sexuality, maternity, feminine ethos, and collaboration.