Feminist Methods and Methodologies (Minor Exam Area)

Questions about method and methodology have been a core part of feminist rhetoric since it began to take form as a distinct field of study. These methodological questions have perhaps been most notably raised in the form of debates between feminist scholars (Barbara Biesecker and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell; Xin Liu Gale, Cheryl Glenn, and Susan Jarratt) over challenges to the ethics and responsibility of feminist historiographical attempts to recover forgotten female figures from rhetorical history. While these debates have garnered a great deal of attention from the field and are a key part of ongoing discussions of feminist rhetorical methods and methodologies, there has been rich and varied discussion among feminist scholars over the past two decades about how to create or modify existing research methods that will support libratory feminist aims. These discussions have been continually enriched and extended through the raising of questions about critical intersections of race, class, ability, nation, etc. that have effectively destabilized fixed categories of “woman.”


This exam brings together work on methods and methodologies from feminist rhetoric with discussions of feminist methodologies from other disciplines, including several pieces that come out of the social sciences. Following the lead of scholars like Sandra Harding, this exam conceptualizes “methods” as distinct practices, strategies, and techniques for gathering data and “methodology” as a larger reflective and theoretical discussion of how one goes about the research process. Discussions of feminist methods and methodologies necessarily involve discussions about what is just and ethical, as well as questions about what kinds of knowledge we can lay claim to as researchers. These ethical and epistemological questions mean that feminist methods and methodologies are not only concerned with the strategies and practices of individual researchers, but must also deal with concerns about the position of the researcher, the kinds of relationships researchers establish with research participants, the responsibility of the researcher to the communities she is studying and/or belongs to, and the task of positioning the knowledge generated by feminist research alongside the kinds of knowledge traditionally granted authority by the academy and other institutions.


Situating methodological discussions in feminist rhetoric alongside ongoing interdisciplinary conversations about feminist methods and methodologies, this exam explores the following questions:


  • What are some of the guiding principles and practices that distinguish feminist methods and methodologies?
  • In what ways do feminist methods and methodologies challenge conventional epistemologies? How do feminist researchers make their work legible despite these epistemological challenges?
  • What strategies have feminist scholars developed in order to do “research for” women, rather than “research on” women?
  • How have insights from women of color feminists questioned or shifted prevailing ideas of what constitutes feminist methods, feminist ethics, and feminist epistemology?
  • How might feminist methods and methodologies bridge disciplinary boundaries? What strategies have feminist scholars developed for carrying out interdisciplinary research?
  • How are discussions of feminist methods and methodologies developing in light of increasing scholarly interest in transnational feminist research?


To help me address these questions, I have developed a list that combines foundational works on feminist methods and methodologies from inside and outside the field. My goal in doing this work is to develop a more sophisticated critical lens for thinking about feminist methodology that I can apply to the crafting of my own research projects. The work that I have begun doing on women’s health, rhetorics of the body, and disability studies presents me with significant methodological challenges as I try to write across different academic disciplines and in solidarity with a number of different activist communities. This list will help me responsibly position myself as a researcher and help me craft more conscientious research methods.




Reading List

Alcoff, Linda. “The Problem of Speaking for Others.” Cultural Critique 20 (1991-92): 5-32. Print.

Bahkru, Tanya. “Negotiating and Navigating the Rough Terrain of Transnational Feminist Research.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 10.2 (2008): 198-216. Print.

Biesecker, Barbara. “Coming to Terms with Recent Attempts to Write Women into the History of Rhetoric.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 25.2 (1992): 140-61. Print.

—. “Negotiating with Our Tradition: Reflecting Again (Without Apologies) on the Feminization of Rhetoric.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 26.3 (1993): 236-41. Print.

Bizzell, Patricia. “Opportunities for Feminist Research in the History of Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Review 11.1 (1992): 50-58. Print.

—. “Feminist Methods of Research in the History of Rhetoric: What Difference Do They Make?” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30.4 (2000): 5-17. Print.

—, ed. Feminist Historiography in Rhetoric. Special Issue of Rhetoric Society Quarterly 32.1 (2002). Print.

—. “Editing the Rhetorical Tradition.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 36.2 (2003). Print.

Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. “Biesecker Cannot Speak for Her Either.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 26.2 (1993): 153-59. Print.

DeVault, Marge. Liberating Method: Feminism and Social Research. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999. Print.

Enoch, Jessica. “Changing Research Methods, Changing History: A Reflection on Language, Location, and Archive.” Composition Studies 38.3 (2010): 47-73. Print.

Flynn, Elizabeth A. “Composing ‘Composing as a Woman’: A Perspective on Research.” College Composition and Communication 41.1 (1990): 83-88. Print.

Fonow, Mary Margaret, and Judith A. Cook, eds. Beyond Methodology: Feminist Scholarship As Lived Research. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

—. “Feminist Methodology: New Applications in the Academy and Public Policy.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30.4 (2005): 2211-36. Print.

Gale, Xin Liu. “Historical Studies and Postmodernism: Rereading Aspasia of Miletus.” College English 62 (2000): 361-86. Print.

Glenn, Cheryl. “Truth, Lies, and Method: Revisiting Feminist Historiography.” College English 62 (2000): 387-89. Print.

Glenn, Cheryl and Jessica Enoch. “Drama in the Archives: Rereading Methods, Rewriting History.” College Composition and Communication 61.2 (2009): 321-42. Print.

Harding, Sandra, ed. Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987. Print.

—, ed. Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Conversations. Routledge: New York, 2004. Print.

Hastings, Wendy. “Research and the Ambiguity of Reflexivity and Ethical Practice.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 31.3 (2010): 307-318. Print.

Hesford, Wendy S. and Eileen E. Schell, eds. Transnational Feminist Rhetorics. Special Issue of College English 70.5 (2008): 461-534. Print.

Kaplan, Caren and Inderpal Grewal, “Transnational Feminist Cultural Studies: Beyond the Marxism/Poststructuralism/Feminism Divides.” Between Woman and Nation: Nationalism, Transnational Feminisms, and the State. Ed. Caren Kaplan, Norma Alarcon, and Minoo Moallem. Durham: Duke UP, 1999. 349-364. Print.

Kirsch, Gesa E. Ethical Dilemmas in Feminist Research: The Politics of Location, Interpretation and Publication. Albany: SUNY Press, 1999. Print.

Kirsch, Gesa E., and Liz Rohan, eds. Beyond the Archives: Research as Lived Process. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2008. Print.

Kirsch, Gesa, and Jacqueline Jones Royster. “Feminist Rhetorical Practices: In Search of Excellence.” College Composition and Communication 61.4 (2010): 640-672. Print.

—. Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy Studies. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2012. Print.

Jaggar, Alison. Just Methods: An Interdisciplinary Feminist Reader. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2007. Print.

Jack, Jordynn. “Acts of Institution: Embodying Feminist Rhetorical Methodologies in Space and Time.” Rhetoric Review 28.3 (2009): 285-303. Print.

Jarratt, Susan C. “Speaking to the Past: Feminist Historiography in Rhetoric.” Pre/Text 11 (1990): 189-209. Print.

—. “Rhetoric and Feminism: Together Again.” College English 62 (2000): 390-93. Print.

Naples, Nancy A. Feminism and Method: Ethnography, Discourse Analysis, and Activist Research. New York: Routeledge, 2003. Print.

Nash, Jennifer C. “Rethinking Intersectionality.” Feminist Review 89 (2008): 1-15. Print.

Nettles, Kimberly D., and Venetria K. Patton. “Seen But Not Heard: The Racial Gap Between Feminist Discourse and Practice.” Frontiers 21.3 (2000): 64-81. Print.

Pryse, Marjorie. “Trans/Feminist Methodology: Bridges to Interdisciplinary Thinking.” Feminist Formations 12.2 (2000): 105-118. Print.

Ramazanoglu, Caroline and Janet Holland. Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices. London: Sage, 2002. Print.

Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “Disciplinary Landscaping, Or Contemporary Challenges in the History of Rhetoric.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 36.2 (2003): 148-67. Print.

Royster, Jacqueline Jones, and Ann Marie Mann Simpkins, eds. Calling Cards: Theory and Practice in the Study of Race, Culture, and Gender. Albany: SUNY, 2005. Print.

Sandoval, Chela. Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000. Print.

Sano-Franchini, Jennifer, Donnie Sackey & Stacey Pigg. “Methodological Dwellings: A Search for Feminisms in Rhetoric & Composition.” Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society 1.2 (2011): 1-9. Print.

Schell, Eileen E. and K. J. Rawson, eds. Rhetorica in Motion: Feminist Rhetorical Methods & Methodologies. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2010. Print.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York: Zed, 1999. Print.

Sullivan, Patricia A. “Feminism and Methodology in Composition Studies.” Feminism and Composition: A Critical Sourcebook. Ed. Gesa Kirsch, Faye Spencer Maor, Lance Massey, Lee Nickoson-Massey, and Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 124-39. Print.

Tasker, Elizabeth and France B. Holt-Underwood. “Feminist Research Methodologies in Historic Rhetoric: An Overview of Scholarship from the 1970s to Present.” Rhetoric Review 27.1 (2008): 54-71. Print.

Tolar, Vicki Collins. “The Speaker Respoken: Material Rhetoric as Feminist Methodology.” College English 61.5 (1999): 545-73. Print.