Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

ENGL

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

In The Medium Is the Movement: The Internet’s Influence on Feminist Rhetorical Strategies, I assert that recent scholarship on online feminism identifies feminist approaches to using the Internet as a tool to achieve activist causes but does not fully consider the active role of the Internet, itself, in changing feminist rhetoric. In response to this oversight, each of my chapters first attends to a popular critique of online feminism and then illuminates the digital framework’s influence in prompting distinct changes to feminist rhetorical practices. In Chapter I, entitled, “Hashtag ‘Slacktivism’: Posturing and Positioning in #OnlineFeminism,” I explore the productive role of feminist “posturing” with hashtags, demonstrating how these seemingly simplistic and perfunctory expressions of activism can revise cultural narratives about gender. Despite claims of a “slacktivist” effort, posturing also proves to be the optimal rhetorical entry point from which feminists can begin to engage in those face-to-face activist scenarios, such as a march or petition. Chapter II: “The Community-Led Rhetoric of a New Leadership Model for Online Feminism” unpacks the ways in which the Internet challenges traditional assumptions about feminist leadership, issuing a new appreciation for a “community-led rhetoric.” Chapter III: “Call-Out Culture in Intersectional Feminism: Listening as a Rhetorical Tool for the Resistance” examines how the digital age affords feminists with the tools to respond to agonistic rhetoric about gender, in addition to facilitating a space for feminist infighting. When such conflict arises, however, the Internet equally provides opportunities to practice “active listening” as a rhetorical strategy for productive discourse. Chapter IV: “The Rhetoric of Choice Feminism and the Responsibility of the Feminist Individual: Writing the ‘Living Experience’” highlights how the digital medium encourages personalized rhetoric or “choice feminism,” while equally, and unexpectedly, drawing attention to the individual’s obligation to others.

Date

4-1-2018

Committee Chair

Bridwell-Bowles, Lillian

Available for download on Thursday, March 27, 2025

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