Elizabeth T. Lane

From Silence to Impact: Analyzing Women Rhetors and Activist Discourse in Networked Spaces

Elizabeth T. Lane

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2017 pp: 146
  • Advisor: Bay, Jennifer
  • Source: DAI-A 79/02(E)
  • Subjects: Language, literature and linguistics; Activism; Discourse; Feminism; Hashtags; Networks; Rhetorical strategy
  • ProQuest Document Number: 1959338465
  • ISBN: 9780355257533
  • UMI Number: AAT 10601620

Abstract:

This dissertation argues that women rhetors assert rhetorically powerful discourse and tactics in networked spaces. Drawing from several areas of study, this dissertation establishes a definition of activist rhetorical strategies, introduces a mixed methods approach to studying feminist activist movements in networked spaces, and makes a case for an increased focus toward studying how women read, write, and share online. Specifically, this research analyzes hashtag movements that proliferate within social networks as a rhetorical tool for social change, inspiring public protests, shifts in cultural conversations, and altered perceptions about women’s material lives. Increasingly, networked spaces are shaping our media culture, as news often breaks in networked spaces such as Twitter or Facebook and users capitalize upon the immediate communicative potential of networked spaces to report about breaking news or share personal perspectives. From a rhetorical perspective, this mutable writing warrants study, as everyday citizens are using networked writing as alternative modes of expression, outside of typical media outlets such as newspapers or television news programs. Feminist activist movements are using networked writing to build decentralized networks of social change, shaping cultural conversations about women’s lives and larger narratives about feminist activism in our contemporary era of new media saturation. This dissertation analyzes the rhetorical traits apparent in three feminist activist hashtag movements and argues for a continued, intensified focus on networked spaces as venues for marginalized writers’ expressions.