List of Feminist Rhetoricians - Gertrude Buck

Gertrude Buck

(1871–1922) Gertrude Buck was born on July 14, 1871 in Michigan where she lived for the first half of her life. She was among a new generation of privileged white women who were able to attend college. Buck received three degrees from the University of Michigan, her bachelor’s at age 13, master’s at age 24, and doctorate in rhetoric at age 27. After receiving her doctorate, Buck went onto teach English and Rhetoric at Vassar College in New York for about 25 years. While there, she was active not only in teaching, but in administration duties and community social issues as well.

She lived in Poughkeepsie with colleague and lover Laura Wylie and they even thought about adopting a child, but they never did. Buck and Wylie took to relevant issues of the community with their membership in the Equal Suffrage League of Poughkeepsie and at the Women's City and County Club. Buck herself was a member of the Socialist Party of New York. She also founded the Poughkeepsie Community Theater as a way to encourage collaboration between social classes. Her textbooks were written for female students and encouraged them in learning and in the participation of politics.

While at Vassar, Buck wrote a number of poems, plays, essays, and textbooks, however her goal was not to become widely published but rather she put her focus on restructuring the Vassar curriculum. “The Present Status of Rhetorical Theory” (1900) documents Buck's ideas against Sophist rhetoric, calling it “socially irresponsible” because it only developed around the idea of persuasion not action. Buck's writings developed around the idea of incorporating individuals with the social community in pursuit of truth.

  • "The Present Status of Rhetorical Theory" (1900)

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