The rhetorical ritual of citizenship: Women's voting as public performance, 1868-1875

Angela G. Ray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


During the Reconstruction era, hundreds of disenfranchised women throughout the United States attempted to register and to vote, performing a participatory argument in an ongoing public controversy about the parameters of the polity. As rhetorical rituals, these women's voting efforts displayed an alternative social order and illuminated the normative practices of citizenship as profoundly gendered. Whereas suffragists' legal rationales for direct action laid claim to citizenship as a universalist category, the intelligibility of the rituals relied on the specificity of cultural conventions. These public performances thus dramatically showcased the power and the limitations of appropriation as a strategy of protest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Appropriation
  • Citizenship
  • Rhetorical ritual
  • Voting
  • Woman suffrage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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