Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-10-2019


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Patricia Arneson

Committee Member

Erik Garrett

Committee Member

Craig Maier


intersectionality, rhetoric, reclamation, women of color, communication, silence, parrhesia, listening


Intersectionality is a term applied by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in the late 1980s to a social experience. A person experiences intersectionality when different aspects of her identity converge in a way that causes uniquely amplified marginalization or oppression. The classic three identities that produce intersectionality experiences in the United States are race, gender, and class, making poor women of color the central figures of intersectionality study. Crenshaw explained that these forces take three main forms: structural, political and representational (“Mapping the Margins” 1243).

Intersectionality has always been rhetorical. Structural, political and representational intersectionality are supported in language. The power of language influences our everyday actions. Joining Crenshaw are communication scholars Brenda Allen, Deborah Atwater, and Marsha Houston who recognize that intersectionality is enacted in language. In exclusionary rhetorical frames, people perform language in a series of systematic techniques that do not require thought and action. Structural, political, and representational intersectionalities are formed by an exclusionary construction of rhetoric that supports the notion that some people are worthy of speaking into existence the world and some people are not. One of communication scholarship characteristics is that we are attentive to context. For example, when one uses the phrase “our feminism will be intersectional” it is important to consider that intersectional is not the same as diverse or multicultural. This project documents the reclaiming of rhetorical intersectionality by women of color and explores the nature of this reclamation.