Troublesome Inventions: The Rhetoric of the Hindman Settlement School, 1902-1927

by Bowles, Sarah Jordan

Abstract (Summary)
In this dissertation I analyze the public writing produced at the Hindman Settlement School, a rural social settlement founded on the banks of Troublesome Creek in Appalachian Kentucky at the turn of the twentieth century. Modeled after urban settlement houses, the Hindman school was founded by two women who sought to redress the perceived poverty and illiteracy of Appalachia with classes on reading, writing, and domestic arts. Methodologically informed by both classical rhetorical analysis and feminist historiography, I reclaim the settlement women as savvy rhetoricians who deployed their arguments through the letters, pamphlets, and serialized novels mailed frequently to a nationwide donor base. In Ciceronian terms, the settlement founders would likely have claimed that these fundraising documents were meant to move readers-to exhort them to action. In so doing, however, the settlement women were also instructing a bourgeois Bluegrass, Midwestern, and Northeastern readership, defining eastern Kentucky (and, accordingly, the entire mountain region) for readers wholly unfamiliar with the land, people, and customs. In their rhetorical stances and methods of appeal, the settlement women construct a simultaneously compelling and troubling version of Appalachia for an audience removed from the mountains in nearly every imaginable way. The rhetoric of the Hindman Settlement School-which includes the invention of mountain topoi, the use of fiction as a rhetorical genre, and the manipulation of testimony as a rhetorical strategy-therefore constitutes an important chapter in the evolving history of "Appalachia" as a cultural invention.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:rhetoric appalachia women s settlement school katherine pettit may stone quare hindman mountain topoi fiction as ventriloquized testimony conscripted invention


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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