Writing the bicycle: women, rhetoric, and technology in late nineteenth-century America Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Hallenbeck, Sarah Overbaugh
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This project examines the intersections among rhetoric, gender, and technology, examining in particular the ways that American women appropriated the new technology of the bicycle at the turn of the twentieth century. It asks: how are technologies shaped by discourse that emanates both from within and beyond professional boundaries? In what ways do technologies, in turn, reshape the social networks in which they emerge--making available new arguments and rendering others less persuasive? And to what extent are these arguments furthered by the changed conditions of embodiment and materiality that new technologies often initiate? Writing the Bicycle: Women, Rhetoric and Technology in Late Nineteenth-Century America addresses these questions by considering how women's interactions with the bicycle allowed them to make new claims about their minds and bodies, and transformed the gender order in the process. The introduction, Rhetoric, Gender, Technology, provides an overview of the three broad conversations to which the project primarily contributes: science and technology studies, feminist historiography, and rhetorical theory. In addition, it outlines a techno-feminist materialist methodology that emphasizes the material and rhetorical agency of users in shaping technologies beyond their initial design and distribution phases. The second chapter, Technology and the Rhetoric of Bicycle Design, describes the context in which the bicycle craze emerged and explains how the popular safety model responded to users' concerns about its predecessor, the high wheeled ordinary bicycle. The third chapter, Popular Magazines and the Rise of the Woman Bicyclist, offers a glimpse at a genre that generated both wider acceptance of the new technology and specific prescriptions as to how it might be useful to women. Finally, the fourth and fifth chapters--titled, respectively, Bicycling and the Invention of Women's Athletic Dress and The Medical Bicycle --examine two discourses that shaped the women's bicycling phenomenon, both rhetorically and materially, and that were in turn transformed by this phenomenon: the heated issues of women's dress reform and women's health.
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  • In Copyright
  • Danielewicz, Jane
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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