Open-ended oratory: Fanny Fern’s use of the periodical as a rhetorical platform

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Recent scholarship has shown how many 19th-century women used writing as a means to engage in socially acceptablepublic discourse. Though most of this research has focused on book authorship, some scholars suggest periodical writing provided women with an even more potent form ofpublic discourse because it was open-ended, allowing women to write much that they could not in other mediums. Fanny Fern was a newspaper columnist who was particularly adept at using the periodical’s open-ended nature to write whatfit within the norms ofappropriate women’s discourse while simidtaneously turning the norm. A close examination ofher work reveals some ofthe potency ofthe periodical, especiallyfor marginalizedpeoples otherwise excludedfromforms ofpublic discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-82
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journalism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


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