Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Carla Hesse: "The Perils of Eloquence"

Carla Hesse's "The Perils of Eloquence" underscores how it was over the course of the French Revolution that French women began to see their status and respect as eloquent speakers diminish.  It was also at this time that the gap in literacy rates between men and women was at its widest.
Additionally, it was during the French Revolution that "the written and the printed word," associated with men as a masculine trait, "supplant the spoken word," associated with women as a female trait, "as the source of popular legitimacy" (30).  Hesse points out that as a result of the masculine, written word, gaining such power over the female, spoken word, "...women would have to find their way into literate culture or see their cultural and political power eclipsed...eloquence had become a perilous art indeed" (30).  

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