“African American Rhetorical Education and Epistolary Relations at the Holley School, 1868-1917” (forthcoming in Advances in the History of Rhetoric, vol. 21, Dec. 2018).
This study establishes the Holley School as an important site of African American rhetorical education in the post-Civil War United States. Abolitionist Caroline F. Putnam was a white Northerner who, like countless other freedmen’s teachers, moved South after the War to teach formerly enslaved African Americans. Putnam’s educational work was remarkable, however, in that she taught rhetoric in service of racial justice and continued this work for almost 50 years. I argue she was able to sustain the Holley School through epistolary relations cultivated to persuade others to join in educating freedmen as well as support the school through donations.
“‘Opulent Friendships,’ Rhetorical Emulation, and Belletristic Instruction at Leache-Wood Seminary” (accepted for inclusion in Women at Work: Rhetorics of Gender and Labor in the U.S., edited by David Gold and Jessica Enoch, under contract with Southern Illinois University Press).
This essay examines how the “opulent friendship” of two Southern white women, Irene Leache and Anna Wood, inflected their work as teachers at the Leache-Wood Seminary. The opulent friendship of these teachers was animated by an erotic of passionate admiration, intellectual stimulation, and rhetorical emulation. I argue this emulation not only fueled their relationship, but informed their work as teachers of rhetoric. Through belletristic instruction and their own example, they taught young women to emulate rhetorical models of what was “beautiful” and “best.”
Refereed Journal Articles
“Romantic Correspondence as Queer Extracurriculum: The Self-Education for Racial Uplift of Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 69, no. 2, 2017, pp. 182-207.
This essay advances same-sex romantic correspondence as a pre-Stonewall site of rhetoric’s queer extracurriculum. Grounded in archival research on African American women Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus, I argue their epistolary exchange was animated by queer erotics that enabled their participation in self-education for racial uplift.
“‘Making It’ in the Academy through Horizontal Mentoring.” Peitho: Journal of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, vol. 19, no. 2, 2017, pp. 210-33. With Steph Ceraso.
This essay productively engages the exigencies facing early-career feminist academics by developing and detailing an approach to horizontal mentoring. This approach emerged through our own horizontal mentoring relationship, which we situate in relation to feminist scholarship on mentoring within rhetoric and composition as well as other fields. We share seven specific practices for horizontal mentoring.
“Gossip as Rhetorical Methodology for Queer and Feminist Historiography.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 35, no. 2, 2016, pp. 135-47.
Engaging with feminist rhetorical methodologies of critical imagination and interdisciplinary queer studies of gossip, this essay theorizes gossip as a methodology for feminist and queer historiography in rhetoric. Gossip as historiographic practice is then illustrated through the example of its uses to develop a queer history of rhetorical education and women’s epistolary practices.
This essay explores the pedagogical project of integrating digital archival research into the undergraduate classroom. We contend that rather than simply asking students to conduct such research, we should teach them first to read digital archives critically. We define this archival literacy by identifying how students might assess the rhetorical properties of various digital archives.
“New Archival Engagements: Student Inquiry and Composing in Digital Spaces.” College English, vol. 78, no. 1, 2015, pp. 34-55.
This essay advances a new pedagogical approach to engaging with archives in undergraduate courses. Through this approach, students not only examine traditional archival materials from the past, but also create new online archives of present-day sources they identify as related. Rather than training undergraduate students to become archival specialists, this pedagogy invites them to inquire into the relevance of archival materials to their own everyday lives and composing practices in digital spaces.
“Queering ‘the language of the heart’: Romantic Letters, Genre Instruction, and Rhetorical Practice.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1, 2014, pp. 6-24.
While romantic letters are usually understood as unstudied and natural expressions of heartfelt love, I argue they are learned through genre instruction and crafted through rhetorical practice. In the nineteenth-century U. S., manuals taught generic conventions for epistolary address, pacing of exchange, and rhetorical purpose, embedding within this instruction a heteronormative conception of romantic relations. Yet these same conventions were susceptible to queer adaptation, particularly in the epistolary practices of writers composing same-sex relations. Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus were African-American women who learned but reinvented the conventions, by negotiating category-crossing forms of address, timing exchange with urgency rather than restraint, and repurposing the romantic letter to erotic and even political ends. Analyzing Brown and Primus’ letters alongside manuals thus underscores the dynamic ways both instruction and practice shape romantic letters and life.
“More Talk about ‘Basic Writers’: A Category of Rhetorical Value for Teachers.” Journal of Basic Writing, vol. 29, no. 1, 2010, pp. 99-124.
This article recuperates the notion of “strategic value,” but to new ends: rather than arguing whether or not basic writing should continue, this case study looks to one institution where it does, asking what value the category “basic writer” holds for teachers and writing program administrators at this site. On the one hand they confirm the existing scholarship’s critiques of the category’s strategic limitations. At the same time, they maintain its potential value when leveraged as a tactic to argue for resources for students, attempt to understand students, and articulate a view of teaching as in service of social justice. Given these tensions between problematic and productive uses of the term “basic writer,” debates about basic writing’s existence would be better served if they shifted away from wholesale critique or defense and instead grappled with more rhetorical questions about the value for particular institutions or programs at specific moments in time.