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Claiming access to elite curriculum: identification and division at the Harvard Annex

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This article analyses the rhetorical practices deployed by the Society for the Collegiate Instruction for Women (SCIW) that sought to gain and maintain curricular access to Harvard University in the late 19th century Using Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification as an analytical framework, the article considers how the SCIW composed Burkean rhetorics of identification and division towards achieving this goal. The SCIW’s identificatory practices are worth serious attention because of the full range of rhetorical modes these women leveraged. Their identificatory rhetorics not only took the discursive form of writing, but the SCIW also articulated their claims through the rhetorical use of students’ bodies as well as the built environment in Cambridge. This examination of the robust rhetorical repertoire of the SCIW prompts scholars of curriculum studies to expand their analytical vision by considering how groups such as the SCIW not only gain curricular access to elite sites of education but also how they maintain and make use of such access.
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Keywords: Harvard; Kenneth Burke; curriculum; identification; women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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