From Manifesto to Modem: Feminism, Composition, and the Subject of Writing

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Evelyn Ashton-Jones

Advisor Department



In the spaces between discourses, networks, and selves, the radical feminists of the 1960s and their online counterparts in the 1990s negotiate the odd interplay of fixity and fluidity that is rhetoric, an interplay that at once suggests both the possibility of a coherent community of writers and the inadequacy of "coherence" and "community" as textual principles. Radical feminist textuality is a suggestive example of networked and collectively literate action, action dependent on the constant and visible contextualization of self and writing within the discourses that shape us. It is this type of literacy, with its attention to the networked, collectively active text, that I explore in From Manifesto to Modem. To that end, this work traces the intersections of radical feminism, composition, and print culture in order to revisit the idea of agency in writing. Specifically, I seek to explore the implications of a performative pedagogy based on acting in the liminal textual spaces between writer and network, private and public, text and context. I offer a telling history of the intersections of feminism and composition, noting that radical feminism in particular forms a curious gap in contemporary discussions of feminist composition. Contemporary feminist compositionists, that is, through a process of mis-historicization, have constructed "radical feminism" in such a way that it can leave no mark on our scholarship or our classrooms. In this work, I question that construction and explore radical feminist textuality of the 1960s and the 1990s as an important and provocative example of a textual rhetoric, a rhetoric that has much to offer composition studies. I argue, that is, that an articulation of radical feminist textuality can benefit both scholarship and classroom, in that it situates writers as rhetorical agents who can write, resist, and, finally, act within a network of discourses and identifications.