Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lynee Lewis Gaillet

Second Advisor

Michael Harker

Third Advisor

Ashley Holmes


For this study I use archived materials to recover the Athens, Georgia, State Normal School and the rhetorical practices of its students and faculty to nuance rhetoric and composition’s understanding of its past and present. While professionalizing themselves for the public role of teacher, the young Southern women and men of the State Normal School blurred traditional gender roles, cultivating an ethos and individuals a rhetorical agency. In this study I argue the rhetorical moves of State Normal School students disrupt dominate patriarchal histories of American rhetoric and composition that claim current-traditional rhetoric dominated the academic landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Additionally, I argue the State Normal School and its students challenge the marginalization of normal schools, rhetorical education, and women’s agency when normalites functioned as public speakers and public writers in the places and spaces of the State Normal School curriculum and extracurriculum. In this study I also consider the implications of attitude when conducting historical, and how perspective and attitude in addition to positionality and academic lens color the research and writing process.