Complete Story

Wetzel, Grace

Spring, 44:1, pages 68-93

Winifred Black’s Teacherly Ethos: The Role of Journalism in Late-Nineteenth-century Rhetorical Education

Abstract: This essay recovers the rhetorical career of San Francisco Examiner journalist Winifred Black to demonstrate how professional journalists used late-nineteenth-century newspapers for rhetorical education and social change. I analyze two campaigns—the ‘‘Orphan’s Santa Claus’’ and the ‘‘Little Jim’’ crusade—to demonstrate how Winifred Black constructs a persuasive ethos capable of inspiring the writing and social action efforts of male and female children from various socioeconomic classes. Specifically, Black revises the rhetorical tradition of the ‘‘stunt girl reporter’’ in order to craft a teacherly ethos anchored in a ‘‘symbolic motherhood’’—an effective rhetorical strategy due to close cultural links between teaching and mothering. Combined with aspects of what Karlyn Kohrs Campbell terms a ‘‘feminine style,’’ this ethos allows Black to promote not merely social change, but a particular kind of rhetorical education that: (1) privileges moral principles over grammatical and mechanical correctness and (2) blurs gender and class lines.

Printer-Friendly Version