Educating the New Southern Woman: Speech, Writing, and Race at the Public Women's Colleges, 1884-1945

Educating the New Southern Woman: Speech, Writing, and Race at the Public Women's Colleges, 1884-1945

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From the end of Reconstruction through World War II, a network of public colleges for white women flourished throughout the South. Founded primarily as vocational colleges to educate women of modest economic means for life in the emerging “new” South, these schools soon transformed themselves into comprehensive liberal arts-industrial institutions, proving so popular that they became among the largest women’s colleges in the nation. In this illuminating volume, David Gold and Catherine L. Hobbs examine rhetorical education at all eight of these colleges, providing a better understanding of not only how women learned to read, write, and speak in American colleges but also how they used their education in their lives beyond college.

With a collective enrollment and impact rivaling that of the Seven Sisters, the schools examined in this study—Mississippi State College for Women (1884), Georgia State College for Women (1889), North Carolina College for Women (1891), Winthrop College in South Carolina (1891), Alabama College for Women (1896), Texas State College for Women (1901), Florida State College for Women (1905), and Oklahoma College for Women (1908)—served as important centers of women’s education in their states, together educating over a hundred thousand students before World War II and contributing to an emerging professional class of women in the South. After tracing the establishment and evolution of these institutions, Gold and Hobbs explore education in speech arts and public speaking at the colleges and discuss writing instruction, setting faculty and departmental goals and methods against larger institutional, professional, and cultural contexts. In addition to covering the various ways the public women’s colleges prepared women to succeed in available occupations, the authors also consider how women’s education in rhetoric and writing affected their career choices, the role of race at these schools, and the legacy of public women’s colleges in relation to the history of women’s education and contemporary challenges in the teaching of rhetoric and writing.

The experiences of students and educators at these institutions speak to important conversations among scholars in rhetoric, education, women’s studies, and history. By examining these previously unexplored but important institutional sites, Educating the New Southern Woman provides a richer and more complex history of women’s rhetorical education and experiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809332854
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 01/03/2014
Series: Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

David Gold, an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan, is the author of Rhetoric at the Margins: Revising the History of Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1873-1947 (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008), winner of the 2010 Conference on College Composition and Communication Outstanding Book Award.

Catherine L. Hobbs, a professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, is the editor of Nineteenth-Century Women Learn to Write (1995) and the author of Rhetoric on the Margins of Modernity: Vico, Condillac, Monboddo (Southern Illinois University Press, 2002) and The Elements of Autobiography and Life Narratives (2005).

They previously collaborated on an edited collection,  Rhetoric, History, and Women’s Oratorical Education: American Women Learn to Speak (2013).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Peculiar Institutions 1

1 Making Modern Girls: The Ideals of the Southern Public Colleges for Women 15

2 Effective Literacy: Writing Instruction and Student Writing 35

3 Evolution of Expression: Speech Arts and Public Speaking 58

4 Useful Careers: Professional Training for Women of the New South 85

5 The Absent Presence of Race 109

Conclusion: A Continuing Legacy 132

Appendix: Name Changes of Southern Public Colleges for Women 143

Notes 145

Bibliography 161

Index 177

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