Tag Archives: rhetoric

work lately

In March I had the chance to present at one of my field’s preeminent conferences, the Conference on College Composition and Communication. (Here’s a link to my panel: http://center.uoregon.edu/NCTE/2017CCCC/cfp/speaker_datasheet.php?id=V3339376 ) For the past several years, I’ve been presenting at this, and similar, conferences with a (slightly rotating) group of scholars who are doing work in reproductive rhetorics. While this hasn’t exactly been  my area of expertise in the past, my recent work as a doula has changed all of that. Feminist rhetorics has always been one of my subject areas, so I’ve gone to feminist panels since I first started attending these conferences years ago. (In fact, I’ve been largely disappointed in my field’s lack of work in this area.) Increasingly, I’ve noticed that feminist panels have dealt with issues of reproduction through a rhetorical lens. For a long while, I thought this was interesting, though not personally relevant. All of that changed once I began working a doula and particularly once I began volunteering as a doula at the university hospital.

My first presentation on this topic of rhetoric and childbirth was about the rhetorical function of narrative in childbirth as a means of learning. Next, I presented on how women use their own birth stories empower and educate each other. This year, my presentation was entitled, “Rhetorics of Consent in Childbirth: Doula-Supported Birth Advocacy in Rape Culture.” After working on this stuff for the past few years, the work is finally worthy of a publishable article. This last presentation was about how the patriarchy (and it’s bureaucracy) take away women’s choice and ability to consent during the childbirth process. In the article, I point to new legal cases that demonstrate doctors acting against the wishes of the mothers/patients, I share some of my own experiences/interpretations of how consent works (or doesn’t work) in the childbirth settings and (and here’s the hard part), I theorize this and place the work within the field of feminist medical rhetorics.

I’m posting this here as an update, but also as a placeholder, a reminder, and a motivator for me to actually complete the darn article.

childbirth in rape culture.PNG

par for the course from Google Image

feminism and rhetoric

Last week a student told me that she didn’t want to come across as feminist in her paper. Like a good teacher, I asked her why and a short conversation ensued. Over the years, most of my students have shared a similar sentiment. I’ve had almost no students identify as feminist. I’ve been teaching for ten years.

I mention this because this weekend I attended a rhetoric conference in my city, which meant that I got to sleep in my own bed and was alert and well-rested for the conference. (Conferences are usually a blur of jet-lag and light sleep, all while desperately clutching at ideas that are flying out of people’s mouths too quickly.)

I got a lot out of this conference. When I attend a conference, I usually lean toward the composition and pedagogy side of things out of necessity. But, my first love, my deeper, intellectual understandings came mid-undergraduate degree in anthropology, sociology, and especially gender studies classes.

Feminism has always been my way in to these discussions. In other approaches, there is often an overwhelming roar “THIS DOES NOT CONCERN YOU!” But, in feminist conversations, I belong. I have wanted to do more with feminism and rhetoric. My scholarly path has veered more toward the practical pedagogical side of things—though I’ve long suspected that I would eventually, more explicitly, make my way back to feminism.

In addition to (excessive) live Tweeting of the conference, I found myself frantically taking notes about project ideas and creative inspiration. I know I want to do more with feminism and my doula work, but I’m not exactly sure how it will all come together. I need to read more. Attend more presentations on feminism and rhetoric. Jacqueline Rhodes and Kristin Arola’s work was particularly inspiring. Hopefully, there’s more to come.