Hartline, Megan Faver; Palmer, Healther
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
In conversations about social change and activism, the American South is rarely represented as a place where such change occurs. However, this analysis will focus on two unlikely activists who used their writing and voices to advocate for change on a local scale in their individual communities. These activists are Emma Bell Miles, an artist, naturalist, and creative writer from Chattanooga, Tennessee who wrote a persuasive column in the Chattanooga News on feminism and naturalism, and Mary Cunningham, a local librarian and mother from McMinnville, Tennessee who created the Magness Library and Community House. This thesis argues that Miles and Cunningham were both capable and intelligent rhetors who understood that their voices alone were not sufficiently persuasive within their patriarchal, religious communities. Therefore, they both chose to situate their voices as extensions of the Christian God and Christianity to validate their opinions and achieve their goals. This strategic rhetorical choice to use God as a form of ethos, or a persuasive tool, is a performance of metis (briefly defined as embodied rhetorical cunning) because both Cunningham and Miles realized that their bodies made their rhetoric less credible. These women’s rhetoric and persuasive skills helped make their communities better places for people in their time, and created space for future generations of marginalized people, especially women, to speak out for their beliefs and continue that legacy of community change.
B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Rhetoric; Social change--Religious aspects--Christianity; Tennessee--History
Miles, Emma Bell, 1879-1919
i, 73 leaves
Burks, Dalton, "Social change through rhetorical action: case studies of two Tennessee women in the archives" (2022). Honors Theses.