Gender Rhetorics: Postures of Dominance and Submission in History.
The volume's strength and its weakness alike lie in the breadth of its inclusions, which, as their titles make clear, extend from anthropological studies of hominoids to Renaissance representations of contemporary codpieces. The studies' variety attests to the liveliness of the conference that produced it but leaves the reader to wonder what the discussions between sessions and after the final presentation must have been like. The safest conclusion seems extremely limited: the study of gender in academia today is ubiquitous. Trexler comments at the close of his introduction, in which he valiantly attempts to summarize each inclusion, "it is a worthwhile parting question to ask if making believe dominates, or is subordinate to gendering" (14). Indeed, it may have been a worthwhile opening question to ask if we understand the past more clearly if we adhere so rigorously to gender as a rhetorical device that we make believe its diachronic dominance over the social contexts that have constructed it.
The text of Gender Dominance is marred by frequent typographic errors including, disconcertingly, "hpow" for "how" on the first page of the introduction and by the occasional omission of lines, such as at the foot of page sixteen. Despite its shortcomings, however, this volume is rewarding for the vivid sense it offers general academic readers of contemporary discussion in fields outside their specialties, for occasional delightfully mordant moments (such as David DeVries on the "dispute between Princeton's priestly professorial class and the Ithacan heretics"), and for fine illustrations of bonobos, Aztec sculpture, and Renaissance painting.
Carol Neel The Colorado College
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1996|
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