By Chandra Alford
In my research project, I will be writing about the works of African American female intellectuals and rhetoricians. Part one of this project will be a critical study of the nonfictional works by Zora Neale Hurston, particularly the letters and essays she wrote during the early part of the 20th century. The second part of this project will be a critical study of African American women who were orators and rhetors of the 19th century such as, Anna Julia Cooper, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells.
The purpose for conducting a critical study of Hurston’s nonfiction work is to provide insight to her social critique of the early 20th century. Also, it is essential and necessary to highlight the rhetorical strategies used by Hurston, who was politically and socially conscious of the times and was not afraid to express it.
This project will begin to fill a major gap in the field of rhetoric and composition by highlighting the rhetorical skills and strategies employed by these black female rhetors of the 19th and 20th centuries, who, unfortunately, have not received enough attention in this field. Furthermore, it is important to conduct this research at this time, because there is a need to build the accessibility of the works of these women through critical scholarship in order for these women and their work to become more widely known. And, it is important to gain further insight into the social issues that inspired the rhetorical savviness of these women.
Chandra Alford is a graduate student and contributing writer for Black Studies @ SIUE.
Research Projects on African American Women