Lives of Their Own
Rhetorical Dimensions in Autobiographies of Women Activists
Watson examines the experiences that motivated these "new women" to break social and rhetorical barriers in writing their life stories, the impact of their activism and public reputations on the autobiographies, and the readership-both supportive and skeptical-for their works. Linking the autobiographies to the development of a feminine consciousness, she suggests that the activists used the writings to assert themselves as women and to articulate a model of selfhood for others to emulate.
In addition, Watson looks closely at the autobiographies as extensions of public advocacy that complemented the more explicitly agitative and argumentative discourse of these women on behalf of their respective causes. She examines how they defended their ideological commitments, dealt with the sometimes competing goals of championing a movement and writing a compelling narrative, and negotiated the boundaries of "womanliness" in their efforts to garner support for their convictions.
About the Author
"The examination of these turn-of-the-century autobiographies as a rhetorical genre breaks new ground for the complexities it reveals about women's works. Recommended for libraries serving undergraduates and graduate students in many disciplines."—Choice
"Martha Watson has put together a masterful study using a mixture of rhetorical and literary theories to argue that women's personal historical narratives can be persuasive."—Journal of Communication Studies
"Lives of Their Own is a persuasive work of rhetorical criticism that presents the autobiographies of five activist as forms of public discourse shaped by particular historical moments and rhetorical situations."—Biography
Other Titles from Studies in Rhetoric/Communication
Other Titles in BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Women