A Glimpse into the History of Race Rhetoric

The purpose of this blog is to be a collection of various perspectives regarding the dichotomies of race in the United States. There will be a heavy focus on the years just before the Civil War ended, the Harlem Renaissance, The Civil Rights Movement and more contemporary issues. There will also be inclusions of slave letters and narratives dating back to the early 19th century. I hope to demonstrate that opinions about race have changed very little. By this, I do not mean that contemporary people support ideologies of chattel slavery. What I mean is that ideologies which promote white superiority and black inferiority are still present in today’s culture and many arguments made under the guise of pro-police or #alllivesmatter or abuse of social welfare subconsciously support black inferiority. These arguments are similar, if not identical, to those made throughout history. I hope that this site will shed more light on a dark part of American history. A part of history which people know happened but seem to have forgotten or omitted the finer details. (Please bear in mind that this is a work in progress. Content is being added, removed and edited periodically)




I Am The Returning Woman

Prior to 1981, the returning woman had no voice or community. There was no platform for her to share her fears, frustrations, accomplishments, and experiences. She was returning to school while raising a family, maintaining a household, possibly married or singe and holding down a job.

I chose the returning woman because I find it interesting that prior to 1981, the returning woman was not fully represented or documented in Hunter history. It wasn’t until I came across the Hunter College Archives and Special Clubs & Publications Collection that I found out about “The Returning Woman” newsletter. What caught my attention was the year in which it was published, a year after my birth. I didn’t know what I was going to come across in the box of archives but the title alone was worth further exploration.

Upon reviewing the archives, and looking through the folders, I noticed the different cover pages for the newsletter. Inside the various editions, I read stories on women who were making their voices heard. The newsletter served as an editorial platform where a community of returning women could encourage each other and share their experiences as a Hunter college returning student.

Although I was unable to spend the amount of time I would have liked to at the Hunter College archives, I managed to capture photographs of the newsletter and its contents so that I could review them later in more depth and detail and figure out how they would be useful to my digital blog, seen here Click Here. The newsletter I found in the archives is valuable for rhetoric and composition. How so? For starters, this method of capturing photos for later use is exactly what Glenn and Enoch’s article covered. The researcher returned to the archives with a fine-tooth comb in hopes of finding something useful for her research – finding something she may have missed before. She stumbled upon a newspaper which constituted as primary and archival materials that enrich the histories of rhetoric and composition with new perspectives and voices (325). I never expected the newsletter I found in the archives to serve as archival history or to be a historical voice. However, the women that were featured in the first print down to the last were women who were speaking loud and clear. They were creating a historical mark for themselves. They also wanted to help other women returning to school.

The purpose of my video archive blog is to reemphasis the powerful effect that a sense of community has on the returning woman. The women that I interviewed are students, mothers, some are married while others are single, have jobs and have decided to take the plunge and return to college. You’ll see in the video blogs that they are transparent in sharing the highs and lows that come with being a returning student. Making the decision to return to college is difficult. Imagine the difficulties that come with being a wife and mother? The decision to return to college will not only effect the returning student but also her family. Susan Kelly argues that when a mother returns to college, changes occur in the parent-child interactions and in other family relationships. Many fathers seek to take on a more substantial part in care-giving to their children, some in a full-time capacity (Kelly 287). Returning to school will cause roles at home to shift. Likewise, Fathers are expected to step up to the plate. This can sometimes create a strain in the relationship if the other parent is unwilling to bend a little. Feldman Berkove argues that woman who felt emotionally supported by their spouse did better in school and were less stressed (Berkove 293). The women that I interviewed shared the same sentiment. Having that emotional support from their spouse has helped them excel in their studies.

We all have different reasons for returning to school. As you’ll notice in the video blogs, some are returning to college so that they can expand their choices in choosing a different career, others want to be able to better provide for their families. This is the case with Carla Nicolas, a women I interviewed. She is 24 year old African American woman with a 3 year old daughter. She is also a single mother. Her reason for returning to school is to better provide for her daughter financially. She is currently a paraprofessional. Sealey-Ruiz argues that when Black women reenter school, the movement effects both their lives and the lives of their children, particularly their daughters who are the next generation of females in their families (Sealey-Ruiz 142). Sealey-Ruiz further argues that back in the day, Black women were banned from academia and when they were encouraged to pursue an education, they were also forced to educate themselves in order to enter into domestic services (Sealey-Ruiz 142).Times have changed. Today, you’ll notice that the women in my blog are reaching career goals and are hoping to achieve them.

I want this video blog to inspire women to go back to school. The fact that these women are already in their final semester at Hunter College should encourage the woman thinking of returning to college to take the plunge. As Kelly argues in her article, nowadays, there are many more mature-age students; they are no longer a rarity, and they may well be providing something of a support group for each other (Kelly 291). No matter the reason for making the decision to return to college, the important thing is that now that the returning woman is officially a student, she needs to know that the women in the archives and the video blog are here for her (not physically but historically) and have paved the way for her to take the plunge, run the race and keep her eyes on the prize.

Works Cited

Glenn, Cherly and Jessica Enoch. “Drama in the Archives: Rereading Methods, Rewriting History.” CCC 61.2 (December 2009); 321-342. Web. EJS. 23 January 2010.

Kelly, Susan. “Changing Parent-child Relationships: An Outcome of Mothers Returning to College”. Family Relations. 31.2 (1982): 287-294. Web.

Berkove, Gail Feldman. “Perceptions of Husband Support by Returning Women Students”, The Family Coordinator 28.4 (1979):451-457. Web.

Sealey-Ruiz, Yolanda. “Rising Above Reality; The Voices of Reentry Black Mothers and Their Daughters”. The Journal of Negro Education 76.2 (2007): 141-153. Web.

Archiving Behavioral Management Strategies

According to McCann, Johannssen, and Ricca (2005), less than 30% of teacher training programs specifically offer classes that address the theory and use of behavioral management strategies” (1). They say that some teachers even enter the workforce without having taken a single course on behavior management. As a future teacher, I feel unprepared to handle classroom behaviors and find it frustrating that there is so little training involved. It is essential for teachers to learn as much information as they can about behavioral management techniques, so that they can better prepare for student success. As Allison N. Nields argues in her article “Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge and Perceptions of Effective Behavior Management Strategies,” “a well-managed classroom is a more productive one, and poorly managed classrooms decrease learning by about 50-70% (1). Many scholars discuss the frustrations that come with behavioral management and how it is frequently cited as one of the reasons for the high attrition rates among teachers. There is clearly a need for teachers to develop more skills in behavioral management, and I wanted to find a way to make this more available.

Although there is current scholarship discussing various behavioral management strategies, I decided that it’s important for teachers to have easier access to simple and realistic techniques. I chose to create a video archive where three different elementary and middle school teachers share their personal experiences with behavioral management and the strategies they’ve found effective. I believe that this video can be more effective than an article, because listening to an actual teacher’s experiences in using certain techniques provides a realistic example and goal for other teachers to follow. Teachers are more likely to try to use the strategies of the teachers in the video, other than using the ones presented on paper, because it demonstrates how the implementation of the strategies is actually realistically possible. It is also more appealing to an audience, because you can really see the passion and enthusiasm the teachers share, and in this day and age, most people would rather watch a video than read something on paper. This archive adds to the scholarly conversation of behavioral management, but offers something new because every teacher and every classroom is different. These voices haven’t been heard before, because each teacher has something else to offer.

The three teachers I interviewed were Rachel Franco, Dahlia Masri, and Dovrat Levi. They all teach in a Yeshiva, and although the main reason for this is because they were the only teachers I had access to, I think it does strengthen the archive by narrowing the scope. Public and private schools are usually very different, and interviewing teachers who only work in a Yeshiva helps focus the conversation to a smaller population. Mrs. Franco and Mrs. Levi teach middle school and Mrs. Masri teaches fourth grade. I wanted to incorporate different grade levels because students’ misbehaviors do change as they grow older, and teachers might need to handle them differently in each grade. Mrs. Franco had taught for 8 years, Mrs. Masri for four years, and Mrs. Levi for 11 years. I wanted to interview teachers who’ve taught for more than three years, because experienced teachers usually have a better grip on effective behavioral management strategies.

I decided that I wanted to organize the interviews by asking them a few general guiding questions, but allowing them the freedom to go beyond and elaborate on whatever they liked. I did a lot of outside research to help me come up with the guiding questions and topics. In Bomer & Bomer’s article, “For a Better World: Reading and Writing for Social Action,” they argue that “one of the fundamental classroom management practices is to first develop a set of classroom rules and expectations” (40). They say that these rules should be developmentally appropriate, should use positive language, and should be taught systematically (40). I decided that I wanted the teachers to discuss their own classroom rules, as well as the reasons why they chose them. I wanted to know if they’re actually able to use the strategies Bomer & Bomer suggest, such as using positive language and teaching them systematically. Bomer & Bomer also argue that students are less likely to misbehave if they are engaged in the lesson and if the teacher delivers a high amount of praise” (41). I wanted to find out what the teachers thought about the relationship between engagement and misbehavior, and how much they value praise in their classrooms. I hoped to discover how the teachers deliver praise appropriately and what specific effects they see it has in their classrooms.

Bomer & Bomer also discuss the strategy of “planned ignoring” (41). This is when teachers decide to ignore a certain behavior, in the hopes that it will extinguish the behavior. The article didn’t give specific examples as to when teachers should use this strategy, and I wanted to find out which situations called for it. It’s definitely tricky trying to figure out which behaviors to ignore and which to address, so I decided that I wanted to ask the teachers about their own strategies in “planned ignoring.”

I noticed that in my own fieldwork experience, there is a lot of physical aggression and violence between students. I never feel comfortable handling those types of situations, and am very unsure of the appropriate way to handle it. I was never taught how to handle physical aggression, as well as verbal aggression, in my education classes in college, and so I wanted to learn how the teachers I was interviewing might handle physical aggression as compared with verbal aggression.

When I finished interviewing the teachers, I noticed that it would make more sense to organize the video by topic, as opposed to organizing it by teacher. It’s more interesting to watch the different teachers discussing their own thoughts and experiences about similar topics, as opposed to watching each teacher talk for 10 minutes separately. This took more work, but definitely strengthened the purpose of the archive. It can definitely attract and engage more viewers, and provide teachers with useful, easily available information on behavioral management strategies.

Here is the video archive I put together. If you watch it on YouTube, you can see that I included a shortened description of the project.




Works Cited:

Bomer, R. & Bomer, K. “For a Better World: Reading and Writing for Social Action.” Heinemann. 2011.

Nields, Allison N. “ Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge and Perceptions of Effective Behavior Management Strategies” University of Nebraska at Omaha, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. 2014.

Putting the Actress in the Canon!

In her piece, “Behind the Curtain: The Spectacular Rhetoric of the Victorian Actress,” Rachael Baitch Zeleny writes, “Rhetoricians typically disregard the theater as a site for rhetorical analysis,” explaining that drama is perceived as a problematic resource, and that it’s too difficult to distinguish the agency of the actress from the voice of the male playwright. Zeleny agrees that the task is problematic, but that it’s a problem worth trying to solve, and she does so by examining the memoir of Ellen Terry, arguing we need to study “what actresses wrote about themselves to better appreciate the actresses’ autonomy and resourcefulness in the rhetorical process of identity construction.”

I would like to expand Zeleny’s idea to include the value of what actresses said aloud to the public about the theatre. It is not necessary to distinguish the actress’s voice from the playwright’s words if it is her words we are hearing. That is why I created a website that showcases the voice of the actress reciting no one’s voice but her own.

Historically, actresses were often associated with prostitutes because they employed their bodies in performing for the pleasure of others as well as for financial gain.” (HA — Here in NYC, most actresses wish they were getting paid.) They were largely banned from performing, with men playing female roles. Eventually they took the stage, but they received the lowest billing behind men. How did women convince the public that their performances were worthy of the same respect as their male counterparts—was it based on the merit of their work, or did women have to advocate for themselves to be considered valuable actresses? To answer these questions, I offer four speeches from actresses on topics speaking to the perception of the actress in the context of her history on stage.

In 1893, Chicago held the World’s Columbian Exposition— the first World’s Fair —to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. The event put Chicago on the map as a progressive city.

As part of the Exposition, the World’s Congress of Representative Women convened, where 150,000 attendees gathered to watch almost 500 women from 27 countries. For the “Women and the Drama segment,” four actresses put to work their ethos as beloved and respected celebrities to address topics from social reform and education to science, art, and industry.

Helena Modjeska counters what she calls the erroneous widely held belief that women on stage date back only a few centuries. She states her case for about 23 minutes (I know, because I recited the speech), which is chock full of carefully researched facts. She believes that women are responsible for the creation of the drama, and by extension, this incredible weight theatre bears on public influence.

Clara Morris challenges the term “emotional actress.” She was known for her ability to shed tears convincingly on stage. In her speech she speaks out against women being defined and put into a bubble. She begins with a ladylike statement of gratitude for being invited to speak, establishing the pathos of the humble lady, and thus having baited the audience, transitions into her argument with grace and authority. In this video, film actress and director Emilie McDonald portrays Morris with a quiet strength, bringing modern relevance to a century-old speech.

Julia Marlowe argues for “women’s right to an exalted position in the art of acting which was won by courage, industry and perseverance,” as Mary Lyn Henry blogs here. (From prostitute to silent to exalted, women sure have earned that position!) In my website exhibit I end with her speech as it serves as a reminder of how far woman has come, and how she is nowhere near finished making strides.

And Geogia Cayvan employs a potent combination of ethos and pathos to move her crowd when she says, “As a woman to women I would make my plea for a better understanding, a more sympathetic appreciation of the women of the stage.” She goes on to urge the audience not to discount an older actress in favor of the new and the young, for real art must mature.

These four speeches were already compiled in a book, but they were among hundreds of other speeches. I created the site to isolate them… magnify them… to glorify them. To do this, I presented video versions of the speech with the thought that hearing the words spoken would breathe life into the old speeches, refreshing them. By doing so, I hoped to recover their voices and put them in modern context. That’s also why I included an Amy Schumer video and a recent New York Times interview with current actresses.

As women rhetors have been recovered in such anthologies as Cheryl Glenn’s Rhetoric Retold and Andrea Lunsford’s Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the History of Rhetoric, I believe the next step is to compile a collection of actresses as rhetors, thereby adding the voice of the actress to the rhetorical canon. Some rhetoricians—notably Professor Wendy Hadyen and Zeleny, view the actress as a precursor to suffragettes. The timeline here makes sense, as the World Congress of Representatives was instituted right in advance of the turn of the 20th century. It seems a marriage between an actress and political/social commentary is a natural fit, and worth rhetorical analysis.









Archival Experience

As a linguistics and rhetoric major, one of the classes I’m required to take is sociolinguistics. A common idea within sociolinguistics is that young women are the leaders in linguistic innovation. It just so happened that at this exact moment, my Archival Traditions in Rhetoric class was reading about Hunter College history as a normal school for young girls around the age of 14. If these girls were alive today, they’d be the first ones that linguists would approach to study. It reminded me of one lady’s paper analyzing commencement speeches, I realized, if the trend of female innovators stretches back to the time Hunter was established, the theory about young women being linguistics innovators would not just be a farce of our time.

I set out to look for commencement speeches of our earliest alumni. I browsed through the list of reference guides to the archives and luckily found commencement addresses very quickly. I put the request in and I met up with the speeches the next day.

I had thought of my method before, and resolved to look at speeches given five years apart, to look for adaptations of language use that expanded or became more widely used. As I mindlessly began taking photos of the many pages in front of me, I realized that this particularly long speech I was taking pictures of was written by a Bernard S. Deutsch. It never occurred to me that a man would be speaking at graduation, since it was an all girls’ school. I looked back at the photos I had already taken and I realized that quite a few of the speeches were given by men. I resolved to stop taking the mens’ speeches since they were not part of my corpus. I doubted that any male speech patterns would be innovative. That was pretty sexist.

I continued to take photos of speeches given by female speakers, every five years until I got to 1939. There were no record of speeches from 1940-1948. This was when I realized my linguistic study would not be so easy, nor clean. I thought to myself, “this giant gap in speeches would inevitably lead to confusion”. I wouldn’t know if any new trend I found after possibly began at Hunter or was externally influenced. I decided to make the best of what I had, which was a ton of commencement speeches, and forage on. I took photos of the 1948 commencement speech as it was the next earliest speech. By the time I finished taking pictures, it had only been about two hours. I was confounded as to what Professor Hayden made it seem like it’d be a wormhole for time. Perhaps making the reservation for the folders was all I needed to do right.

Later in the week, I had to read an extract from “Language and Woman’s Place’ by Robin Lakoff which posited that women are actually bidialectical: they know two languages and switch between them according to context and situation. One of the languages is the prescribed dialect of female speech; the other, a learned form of male speech. While the female speech is looked down upon and not taken seriously, the male form of speech is held in high regard, and is unfairly considered the default in public forums. This is what women have resorted to in order to level the playing field before her.

While once, girls were admonished for speaking roughly, the women they have grown into (have to) unlearns the gendered language policing they had experienced all their lives. They mirror male linguistic patterns as a result of oppressions stemming from childhood.

This made me realize that I possibly had stumbled on something bigger than just young girls as innovators. My having to stop taking pictures of speeches given by men was indicative of something else entirely. With both a record of how men and women speak, I could figure out patterns in their speech and the relationship between them. I began imagining scenarios I would find in the speeches such as the women speaking differently when addressing fellow peers as opposed to speaking in reference to themes outside of the audience. Would she adopt the male dialect for certain messages and not others? Thus, I began looking at the photos I had taken with a new target in mind. I also realized I would have to make another trip to the archives in order to get the rest of the male addresses.


One of the male speakers writes about his devotion to Hunter College because of his wife. He links his loyalty to the school through a “tie of affection” as opposed to something related to education or knowledge or schools. I am no longer sure if I am being sexist by pointing this out, or if the feminist lens magnifies this deep. Another thing I noticed, he repeated many words over and over again, to the point where the sentence was really hard to decipher. For example,

“When you step from school into the wider world, you step from a scene in which you are protected in some degree from the consequences of your own errors into a scene in which you are penalized not only for your own errors, but for the errors, sometimes even for the crimes, of your fellow-citizens.”

There’s so much more to be deciphered and gleamed from these speeches. I’ve since learned from my own experiences that the archives may bring you to difference places, but it is up to the archivist-researcher to figure out the context of these places. Had I never read Lakoff’s piece differentiating between male and female speech, I would have continued on my search for vague innovations made by girls from a society and time I am not familiar with.

Works Cited

Deutsch, Bernard S. Commencement Address, Hunter College in 1934, Hunter College Publications Collection, Box 23, Folder 5, Archives and Special Collections, Hunter College Libraries, Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York City.
Lakoff, Robin Tolmach., and Mary Bucholtz. “Chapter 17.” Language and Woman’s Place: Text and Commentaries. New York: Oxford UP, 2004. 242-52. Print.

Let’s Rewind…

Today, as I sit here to reflect on my entire Rhetorical experience with Professor Hayden, and explain my knew found knowledge, I want to acknowledge how my ability to view materials and events has expanded, along with a new found perspective.  Currently, I am working on several projects, for several classes, at CUNY Hunter College . One is for my Rhetoric course where I am making a digital archive! This is super exciting, words can’t even describe how awesome it is; but I’ll try. The way this works is by you (well me; I’m just explaining the methodology), the archivist (yes, I am an archivist because I am creating my own archive; my insides are scretching Hooray!) deciding what you want the world to know. As simple as it sounds, it is actually quite important because I am the one who must acquire adequate information to present to the world. In the archive that I am constructing, I am using my rhetorical mindset to have my viewers learn about gender norms that exist in society and evaluate their consistency and lack thereof. The heart of this information will be elaborated through the interviewing of teachers from P.S. 25 Bilingual School located in the Bronx. The method in the interview is to inform the world about student development and how, as children grow, act in an uncommon behavior in aspect to their gender. My class has allowed me to create and feel confident enough, to make my own digital archive.


Another class of mine, was an education course on social foundations where we discussed readings and evaluated and criticized their importance. One reading by Blickenstaff, Jacob Clark. “Women and Science Careers: Leaky Pipeline or Gender Filter?” really upset me. I, being the rhetorician, viewed his narrative from an outside perspective, and instead of looking at the information and it’s content, I looked at how he presented and worded his information. During this class discussion I express how biased his entire research sounded and the instructor didn’t want to hear it and neither did the class. The instructor had the power and rhetor to keep the class discussion on her viewpoint and perspective. From this experience I could physically see how some rhetor has more power than others.


The blog post prior to this one, Hmm…So what exactly can one find in an archive?  was about my discoveries at the Berg Collection at NYPL. This experience is highlighted throughout the entry and my favorite aspect of the cat paw letter opener that belong to Charles Dickens, is also elaborated on. The point of the blog is for you, the viewer, to learn about how life-like an archive hall/room really is, versus how it appears on the TV screen. The experience at the Berg Collection has given me a deeper perspective on how information can be represented and also physically see how important materials can be, based on the rules that visitors must comply with in order to enter the archive; rule is to not touch material or take photographs.


Now, since we are going backwards, the blog before going to the Berg Collection was related to guest speakers who came to our class to essentially be rhetorical with us. Traveling through time and space with Padgett and Hayden is a blog where I wrote about how I have learned from my professor, Hayden, and how the guest speaker Padgett, a former student has also learned from her as well. In my blog I use my rhetorical abilities to plunge my favorite TV show Doctor Who into the talk about my experience with the guest speakers. Throughout the blog I am rambling with excitement on how similar I was to Padgett who had learned from my professor and then I divert to talking about what I liked about the guest speaker. It might not seem like a rhetorical learning experience but that is where the tricky part comes in. Throughout my writing I am getting the viewer, you, to enter into my whirlpool of looking at time and is overlapping tendencies. Not only do I get you to think like me in my writing, which is a rhetorical action, I also get your curiosity going by relating my method of archival research to Padgetts, addressing how similar our styles of research may be. I also leave the reader a hook and desire to find these similarities by providing a link to our archival methodologies.


As you have probably guessed, the blog before this is my archival methodology, The Inclusion of God in Literature where I discuss my time spent at the Hunter Archives and Special collections. At first I start to dwell on all my emotions from the start of this course to explaining what I found in Muriel Fuller’s archive. What I found was the impact God had in her time period through the literature and multiple bibles Muriel had in her possession. Through this experience is where I started understanding how to be a rhetorician and also how to explore the mindset of the archivist and that of Muriel Fuller. I viewed Muriel Fuller’s documents to see what she was like and then by viewing the archive on Muriel Fuller, witnessed first hand how the archivist decided to to categorize and place her content.


The very beginning of my confusion portrayed in blog number one, How can a Captain be a celebrity, Cook? (Play on words with Captain Cook) is my first time ever exploring archives. I had no idea what I was doing and spent an hour or more talking on the phone with a classmate in order to figure out what I had to do with the assignment. I was frantic about finding my question for research. In the blog I explore how my learning on archives and research started to grow, like a seed grows into a tree at stage one, watering. I had to learn what compromise was in researching and looking at what I have found, and not dwell on what I haven’t found. I needed to take what my digital archive presented to me and make some understanding out of it. I did just that, and this blog on the celebrity captain is what resulted from my ability to comprise. Now, just because I was able to complete the assignment does not mean that I understood how to view a digital archive, that came later in the course, nor did the blog completion reflect that I did the assignment correctly, which is why I met with Professor Hayden. In this meeting that has only been discussed here, I questioned the professor about the assignment and whether or not I completed it correctly. Apparently I did understand because I had earned a very good grade along with words of advice about not overthinking. I was informed that I was understanding, “You’re doing Good” Hayden said. This made me really happy because I thought I was lost when according to my professor I was actually being rhetorically correct! That was my biggest challenge in the class, contemplating whether or not I understood the course content and assignments.


I applaud you if you have read this far in my rhetorical experience. I’d like to leave you with some last comments. Exploring archives can be very time consuming and most likely you won’t find what you’re exactly looking for, regardless of the type of archive you view and how many times you search. What the archive holds is exactly what that archive holds and that’s just the way it is. The archive cannot give you information on what it does not contain. Yet, if you are a rhetorician and in the process of becoming one, you have the ability to use what the archive has provided to you and construct your personal theory and outlook on the material. You as the rhetorician can create something from what you might have thought was nothing. It is a very enlightening experience. I also wrote about this type of researching in my essay Find the Hunter With, here you can learn about how to research within an archive. I strongly suggest learning how to be a rhetorician and how to use archives. You’ll definitely benefit greatly. You will see the world from other life experiences, through their ideas and also you yourself will develop an entirely new way of viewing the world and literature/information.