Gender and Language, Vol 5, No 1 (2011)

Towards a 'second-generation' suffragism: Reclaiming Indiana’s iron(ic) woman in Helen Gougar’s political rhetoric

Tarez Samra Graban
Issued Date: 20 Jul 2011


On 7 June 1907, The Kansas Commoner ran an obituary commemorating Helen M. Jackson Gougar (1843--1907) as a woman over whom the American public held ‘two opinions,’ in part because of her aggressive stance towards turn-of-the-century political reform. Known as a simultaneously elegant and ironic speaker, Gougar did not always align her own messages with the feminist mainstream. This essay seeks to bring Helen Gougar into the national conversation surrounding suffrage rhetoric, which has historically focused on American feminists such as Susan B. Anthony, Ida Harper, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Frances Willard, first by offering a way to discursively classify her texts, and secondly by demonstrating how more tacit features of her irony represent a productive and complex rhetoric – productive in the way it creates, rather than merely responds to, persuasive occasions, and complex in the way it employs her audiences as targeted subjects in certain exchanges.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.v5i1.31


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