Feminist Rhetorics

Feminist Rhetorics and Digital Activism

Course Overview: 

This 4000-level course explores how women across the world have deployed discourse to gain agency for themselves and their communities in recent years via rhetorical engagement with digital technologies. From India to Africa to the United States, this course investigates the various strategies women’s organizations have adopted to fight for political and personal power. In addition to engaging in campaign analysis, this course challenges students to embark on their own digital activism projects in which they work for feminist goals according to their own visions and cultural contexts.

Formal Assignments:

Digital Feminist Campaign Analysis, Collaborative Digital Campaign, Pecha Kucha Presentations,

Key Themes: 

Feminism, First, Second, Third, and Fourth(?) Waves of Feminism, consciousness raising, feminist activism, transformational politics, transfeminism, postfeminism, hashtag activism, digital publics, cyberfeminism, digital rhetorics, digital reflexivity, third space, rhetorical analysis

Primary/Supplementary Texts: (Small Sample)

Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century, edited by Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier

“Reconceptualizing Rhetorical Activism in Contemporary Feminist Contexts” by Stacey K. Sowards & Valerie R. Renegar

“Multiple Critique: Islamic Feminist Rhetorical Strategies” by Miriam Cooke

“Blogging Borders: Transnational Feminist Rhetorics and Global Voices” by Jessica Ouellette

“Transnational Feminist Rhetorics in a Digital World” by Mary Queen

“Queer-the-Tech: Genderfucking and Anti-Consumer Activism in Social Media” by Matthew A. Vetter

“23 Inspiring Digital Feminist Campaigns that Changed the World” by Elizabeth Prank

“How to Set up and Run a Successful Feminist Campaign” by Kira Cochrane

Our Pictures, Our Words: A Visual Journey through the Women’s Movement by Laxmi Murthy and Rajashri Dasgupta

Digital Security as Feminist Practice” by Jennifer Radloff

“Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring Movement: Applying the Framework of Digital Reflexivity to Analyze Gender and Online Activism” by Victoria Newsom and “Lara Lengel”

Course Description:

How do women persuade through voice, body, and technology? What conditions affect, and often constrain, the way women persuade? And what strategies do women use to gain agency for themselves and their communities? In taking up such questions, this course engages with a wide range of feminist and rhetorical theories to study how women have interacted with a variety of digital technologies in recent years for a variety of feminist goals.

Throughout the course, you can expect to engage with a  wide range of feminist and rhetorical theories to foster your understanding of how discourse and activism can interact to create change. However, you will also encounter how women here in the U.S and around the globe have recently attempted to manipulate their space, bodies, speech, and a diverse range of materials and digital technologies to be heard by others. After embarking on their own campaign analyses to learn about strategic tactics used in  a variety of digital feminist campaigns, students will have the opportunity to launch their own digital campaign in response to an issue of interest and significance to them. From analysis to production to delivery, students will put rhetorical theory to work for productive civic engagement. They will also share their campaigns with the public in a Pecha Kucha event to be produced and organized by the class.