Inventing the Lady Manager: Rhetorically Constructing the “Working-Woman”

Inventing the Lady Manager: Rhetorically Constructing the “Working-Woman”

Peitho Volume 21 Issue 1 Fall/Winter 2018

Author(s): Julie A. Bokser

Abstract: Situated in feminist rhetorical studies, this essay attends to how a select group of women assumed leadership and asserted authority in their work with the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The essay attempts to understand how women became managers and workers by studying the writing and symbolic acts of Bertha Palmer, President of the Board of Lady Managers, and several associates. Using archived correspondence, primary texts, and recent feminist rhetorical methodology, the essay recovers the women’s rhetorical practices, examines perceptions of gender and leadership, and sketches the challenge of “leaning in” in the rapidly changing working world of the late nineteenth century. 

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