By Associate Professor Elaine B Richardson, Ronald L Jackson II
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African American Rhetoric(s): Interdisciplinary views is an advent to basic ideas and a scientific integration of old and modern strains of inquiry within the learn of African American rhetorics. Edited by means of Elaine B. Richardson and Ronald L. Jackson II, the quantity explores culturally and discursively constructed types of wisdom, communicative practices, and persuasive ideas rooted in freedom struggles via humans of African ancestry in the United States.
Extra info for African American Rhetoric(s): Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Black Speakers, White Representations 33 What in Harper’s rhetorical training may have enabled such responses to her public speaking? She attended her uncle William Watkins’s Academy for Negro Youth in Baltimore until she was thirteen. The Reverend Watkins taught grammar from Samuel Kirkham’s English Grammar in Familiar Lessons, a popular nineteenth-century textbook. In his classroom, Watkins emphasized elocution and precise composition. One former student, who matriculated ten years after Harper, recalled William Watkins as a strict teacher, “demanding an exact inflection of a pupil’s voice” and adding that “every example in etymology, syntax and prosody had to be given as correctly as sound upon a key-board .
In an 1857 speech to the New York Anti-Slavery Society, Harper, discussing the dangers of the Fugitive Slave Law, creates this scene: “A man comes with his affidavits from the South and hurries me before a commission; upon that evidence ex parte and alone he hitches me to the car of slavery and trails my womanhood in the dust” (Foster, 1990, p. 102). Here, the rhetorical persona is gendered female; a standard rhetorical strategy of Harper’s, pointed out by Sale (1992), “in which she used the word “womanhood” or makes other references to women in a discussion that is otherwise not gender specific in order to make women’s presence and participation explicit” (p.
To be sure, Harper suited her audiences’ rhetorical tastes. In response to a speech she delivered in the Reconstruction South, the editor of the Alabama Mobile wrote the following: The lecturer was then introduced as Mrs. F. E. W. Harper, from Maryland. Without a moment’s hesitation she started off in the flow of her discourse, which rolled smoothly and uninterruptedly on for nearly two hours. It was very apparent that it was not a cut and dried speech, for she was as fluent and as felicitous in her allusions to circumstances immediately around her as she was when she rose to a more exalted pitch of laudation of the “Union,” or of execration of the old slavery system.