English Ph.D. Dissertations


Remediating Rhetorical Room at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair: Lucy Stone, Mary Cassatt, and Ida B. Wells

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing)

First Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Bruce L. Edwards (Committee Co-Chair)

Third Advisor

Kristine Lisa Blair (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Amelia Carr (Committee Member)


This dissertation examines the slice of history that is the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition (Chicago World's Fair) and the rhetorical strategies employed there by Lucy Stone, Mary Cassatt, and Ida B. Wells. Each of these women actively worked for the freedom of women to reach their full potential as citizens and human beings. They each made rhetorical statements using the means available to them, negotiating and remediating their boundaries and the spaces allocated to them in order to challenge and transform the power hierarchy. I argue using Lucy Stone's speech, “The Progress of Fifty Years”; Mary Cassatt's mural, Modern Woman; and Ida B. Wells's The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World's Columbian Exposition: The Afro-American's Contribution to Columbian Literature to show how these boundaries restricted but also enabled these rhetoricians' acts to be effective. The dissertation shows how these women rhetoricians remediated accepted genres and exploited space and time to make their voices heard and to remap the rhetorical record.

Each of the biographical chapters uses Lindal Buchanan's topoi that create sites from which to discuss regendering rhetorical delivery. The six topoi—education, access, space, genre, body, and career—form a heuristic by which each woman's path to the World's Fair is studied. Of special concern are space and genre, but also provided are historical and social context for each of the individuals, followed by analysis of the particular artifact: a speech, a painting, a pamphlet.