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Transnational Feminist Rhetorics and Gendered Leadership in Global Politics

From Daughters of Destiny to Iron Ladies

Rebecca S. Richards - Foreword by Rebecca Dingo

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Transnational Feminist Rhetorics and Gendered Leadership in Global Politics examines the rhetoric surrounding women who hold or have held the highest office of a nation-state. Heads of state, such as Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Michelle Bachelet, have navigated their ascent to executive government in vastly different ways while contending with gendered expectations of leadership, especially since most of them are the first woman to occupy their country’s highest governmental position. This book analyzes how these women rhetorically perform their positions of power—discursively, visually, and physically—in a traditionally male leadership role. Specifically, this project examines how certain rhetorical acts open up and close down the potential to confront the gendered expectations surrounding political leadership.

When people analyze, campaign for, or critique a “female prime minister” or a “woman president,” they are not just talking about one woman but also referencing a collective neoliberal logic that interrupts and reaffirms the belief that the nation-state is an eternal, inevitable structure. Diverse political figures, such as Angela Merkel, Julia Gillard, and Indira Gandhi, are continually put in conversation with one another, through popular media representations, academic scholarship, and political analyses. This book examines the effect of such comparisons and connections, ultimately arguing that many of these gestures reduce or over-simplify women’s contributions to world politics. In order to show this effect, this book manifests the transnational connections found in autobiographies, organizations, political commentaries, biographical films, and other sources that focus on women who have been heads of state.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 256Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-9825-4 • Hardback • October 2014 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7391-9827-8 • Paperback • April 2017 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
978-0-7391-9826-1 • eBook • October 2014 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
Rebecca Richards is assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College.
Table of Contents
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Confronting the
Doxa of the Nation-State: Transnational Rhetorics and Women World Leaders
Chapter 2. Daughters of Destiny: Narrations of the Nation-State in Autobiographies of Women World Leaders
Chapter 3. Rewriting Public Histories: Political Women, Embodied Mimicry, and the Biopic
Chapter 4. Access Denied: Creating a Corporate Rhetor for Women World Leaders
Chapter 5. Will the Real “Iron Lady” Please Stand Up?: Cyborgian Politics from Margaret Thatcher to Hillary Clinton
Conclusion
Epilogue
Appendix A. List of Women World Leaders
Appendix B. Brief Biographical Information of Political Women in this Book
Bibliography
Index
About the author
Transnational Feminist Rhetorics and Gendered Leadership in Global Politics offers an important contribution to and promises to spark new conversations about transnational feminist and rhetorical scholarship. Richards demonstrates a distinctive ability to sustain and focus on the potential of the discourses and practices of women world leaders to serve as radical departures from the assumptions about leadership in and across nation-state contexts, as well as re-instantiations of neoliberal logics underpinning the nation-state. Richards moves elegantly from the narratives of power produced by and about individuals to collective considerations of political women in order to identify structures and strategies that frame and promote the naturalness or inevitability of women leaders, and the public histories they animate in transnational contexts.

Adela Licona, University of Arizona



Rebecca Richards’ insightful and compelling book,
Transnational Feminist Rhetorics and Gendered Leadership in Global Politics, is a must-read for audiences invested in feminist rhetorics and women’s leadership. Richards’ astute analysis of a range of multimodal texts reveals the impactful rhetorical strategies that shape identities of women world leaders and their work. Besides the major contributions Richards makes to feminist rhetorical scholarship, she intervenes significantly in conversations relating to transnational, citizenship, genre, and media studies. Situated in the recent past and contemporary moment, Richards’ study has much to say to our current situation as well as to the future prospect of women in leadership positions around the globe.

Jessica Enoch, University of Maryland


The Oval Office, like its equivalent in other nation-states, has traditionally been viewed as masculine rhetorical space. In this insightful study, Rebecca Richards explores how women world leaders navigate these spaces, and, most importantly—explains why their presence on the world stage is so rare. Anyone interested in the gendered dynamics of political office will be fascinated by this book.
Roxanne Mountford, University of Kentucky


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