1st Edition

American Women Activists and Autobiography Rhetorical Lives

By Heather Ostman Copyright 2022
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    American Women Activists and Autobiography examines the feminist rhetorics that emerge in six very different activists’ autobiographies, as they simultaneously tell the stories of unconventional women’s lives and manifest the authors’ arguments for social and political change, as well as provide blueprints for creating tectonic shifts in American society.

    Exploring self-narratives by six diverse women at the forefront of radical social change since 1900—Jane Addams,  Emma Goldman, Dorothy Day, Angela Davis, Mary Crow Dog, and Betty Friedan—the author offers a breadth of perspectives to current dialogues on motherhood, essentialism, race, class, and feminism, and highlights the shifts in situated feminist rhetorics through the course of the last one hundred years.

    This book is a timely instructional resource for all scholars and graduate students in rhetorical studies, composition, American literature, women's studies, feminist rhetorics, and social justice.

    Introduction: American Women Activists and Autobiography: Rhetorical Lives

    Chapter 1: The Progressive Cassandra: Rhetoric in Jane Addam’s Twenty Years at Hull-House

    Chapter 2: Anarchism and the Rhetoric of Womanhood: Emma Goldman’s Living My Life

    Chapter 3: Dorothy Day and the Rhetoric of Paradox

    Chapter 4: Angela Davis: An Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Race Consciousness

    Chapter 5: Rhetorical Sovereignty and the Gendered Body in Mary Crow Dog’s Lakota Woman

    Chapter 6: Betty Friedan’s Life So Far and New Activist Paradigms


    Heather Ostman is the author or editor of multiple books, including Kate Chopin and Catholicism (2020). She teaches English at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, where she also serves as Director of the Humanities Institute.

    'Heather Ostman approaches the autobiographical projects of Jane Addams, Emma Goldman, Dorothy Day, Angela Davis, Mary Crow Dog, and Betty Friedan by looking at what they shared and what they did not, especially regarding the authors’ feminist rhetorics and the various ways their lives and social justice causes were entangled. This premise is particularly exciting for scholars interested in the relationship between life writing and social justice. Ostman’s volume can be read as an evolution of themes (womanhood, sisterhood,
    motherhood, marriage, class, race, gendered body, conversion) threaded along each chapter.'

    Ana Belén Martínez García, Associate Professor of English at the University of Navarra