Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity Through the Renaissance
After explaining how and why women have been excluded from the rhetorical tradition from antiquity through the Renaissance, Cheryl Glenn provides the opportunity for Sappho, Aspasia, Diotima, Hortensia, Fulvia, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Margaret More Roper, Anne Askew, and Elizabeth I to speak with equal authority and as eloquently as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Augustine. Her aim is nothing less than regendering and changing forever the history of rhetoric.
To that end, Glenn locates women's contributions to and participation in the rhetorical tradition and writes them into an expanded, inclusive tradition. She regenders the tradition by designating those terms of identity that have promoted and supported men's control of public, persuasive discourse -- the culturally constructed social relations between, the appropriate roles for, and the subjective identities of women and men.
Glenn is the first scholar to contextualize, analyze, and follow the migration of women's rhetorical accomplishments systematically. To locate these women, she follows the migration of the Western intellectual tradition from its inception in classical antiquity and its confrontation with and ultimate appropriation by evangelical Christianity to its force in the medieval Church and in Tudor arts and politics.
Glenn sets the scope of her study from antiquity to the Renaissance for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Enlightenment saw the end of classical rhetoric as the dominant and most influential system of education and communication. Equally important, the Enlightenment brought about the demise of the one-sex model of humanity that centered on the telos of perfect maleness --with women and children being perceived as undeveloped men.
Glenn expands the history of rhetoric by including the contributions of women. She is not writing a compensatory history or a history of rhetoric by women; she is integrating the rhetorical accomplishments of women into the context of the male-dominated and male-documented rhetorical tradition and, in the process, enriching that tradition.