Liberating Language Review

Review of Liberating Language: Sites of Rhetorical Education in Nineteenth-Century Black America by Shirley Wilson Logan. JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, vol. 31, no. 1-2, 2011, pp. 390-394.


Intro Excerpt: Although numerous studies on the historiography of African-American rhetoric exist, very few approach the subject like Shirley Wilson Logan’s Liberating Language: Sites of Rhetorical Education in Nineteenth-Century Black America. Her book provides new dimensions to the examination of African-Americans’ rhetorical education during the nineteenth century. Logan transgresses the boundaries of traditional institutions in pursuit of alternate spaces where rhetorical education emerged. She explores non-traditional sites in which African Americans were able to obtain and hone their rhetorical abilities and subsequently use these abilities in racial uplift; her purpose is to “expand our understanding of the various ways in which African Americans, faced with the consequences of enslavement and oppressive color prejudice, acquired rhetorical competence during the late eighteenth century and across the nineteenth century” (9). Like Logan’s previous book “We are Coming”: The Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women, Liberating Language furthers the scholarship of African-American rhetorical engagement and ultimately provides invaluable insight into the intellectual foundations and traditions of African Americans.

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