Finding the Grimkés in Charleston: Using Feminist Historiographic and Archival Research Methods to Build Public Memory

Finding the Grimkés in Charleston: Using Feminist Historiographic and Archival Research Methods to Build Public Memory

Peitho Volume 18 Issue 2 Spring/Summer 2016

Author(s): Amy Gerald

Abstract: Developments in feminist historiographic and archival research methods have led to a stronger sense of Sarah and Angelina Grimké’s rhetorical history in Charleston, essential to understanding their later ethos as public rhetors. Enoch and Jack (CE 2011) and Kirsch and Royster (CCC 2010) offer complementary meta-rhetorical stances that encourage an awareness of both how historical narratives are built and work upon the public and how the researcher’s lived experience might enhance the process itself. Paired with a research narrative that culminates in a collaboration with the Charleston Museum to build a sense of public memory about the Grimké sisters, this article presents an expanded and more complex understanding of the Grimkés and the seeds of their rhetorical agency. Recovered through feminist rhetorical historiography, the Grimké sisters emerge from the skewed lens of historical tourism into clear focus as nascent social reformers.

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