M. Amanda Moulder
Graduate Portfolio in Indigenous Studies, University of Texas at Austin, August 2010
M.A. in English, Concentration in American literature, University of Texas at Austin, May 2005
B.A. in English and American studies, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD, May 2000
My research is at the intersection of nonwestern rhetorical history, cross-cultural communication, and writing pedagogy. Specifically, I look at the ways in which past composition and rhetoric pedagogies, especially those employed in nonwestern communities, have affected and can inform contemporary classroom practices. My historical scholarship looks at traditionally excluded rhetorical and literacy traditions on their own cultural and political terms, and examines the types of rhetoric and literacy that result when distinct cultural traditions interact on uneven ground (where one group has greater political power than the other). My current book project-in-progress, “They ought to mind what a woman says”: Early Cherokee Women’s Rhetorical Traditions and Rhetorical Education, builds on recent scholarship in nonwestern rhetorics and uses the tools of literacy studies to recover Cherokee women’s voices and theorize how they contribute to a Cherokee rhetorical tradition.
My scholarship demonstrates that eighteenth-century Cherokee rhetorical education gave rise to the speaking strategies—references to motherhood and matrilineal clan adoption, allusions to Cherokee land rights, and collaborative public speech-making—that Cherokee women used to deter colonizers’ attempts to limit women’s authority. For example, when the 1787 Cherokee leader Katteuha reminded Benjamin Franklin that “woman Does not pull Children out of Trees or Stumps nor out of old Logs, but out of our Bodies, so that [he] ought to mind what a woman says” (Hazard 182), she was boldly confronting well-mannered, colonialist misogyny with references to the necessity of childbirth. She authorized her letter this way because she came from a rhetorical tradition that had space and respect for women’s political participation and collective movements. Therefore, when she confronted someone who minimized her power, she spoke with confidence and rooted her words in the traditions that gave her authority. I encourage my students to write with this kind of authority. Like the Cherokee women I study, students are most successful when they marshal the resources of their cultural backgrounds to find persuasive strategies when they write and speak. Doing so enables them to communicate about issues that concern them to people who need to hear them.