Claiming the Bicycle: Women, Rhetoric, and Technology in by Sarah Hallenbeck

By Sarah Hallenbeck

Although the impression of the bicycle craze of the past due 19th century on women’s lives has been good documented, infrequently have writers thought of the position of women’s rhetorical supplier within the transformation of bicycle tradition and the bicycle itself. In Claiming the Bicycle, Sarah Hallenbeck argues that via their collective rhetorical actions, girls who have been generally dispersed in house, style, and purpose negotiated what have been thought of socially applicable makes use of of the bicycle, destabilizing cultural assumptions approximately femininity and gender differences.
Hallenbeck describes the masculine tradition of the “Ordinary” bicycle of the Eighties and the methods girls helped result in adjustments during this tradition; asserts that ladies contributed to bicycle layout, assisting to provide the extra gender-neutral “Safety” bicycle in keeping with discourse approximately their wishes; and analyzes girls writers’ makes use of of the hot venue of renowned magazines to form a “bicycle lady” ethos that caused new identities for girls. the writer considers not just how technical records written by way of girls bicyclists inspired new riders to appreciate their job as reworking gender definitions but in addition how ladies used bicycling as a rhetorical source to persuade scientific discourse approximately their bodies.
creating a major contribution to stories of feminist rhetorical historiography, rhetorical employer, and technical communique, Claiming the Bicycle asserts the software of a disbursed version of rhetorical company and bills for the efforts of extensively dispersed actors to harness know-how in selling social change. 

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Extra info for Claiming the Bicycle: Women, Rhetoric, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America

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The Overman Wheel Company’s 1890 trade catalog betrayed some hesitation in marketing its Victoria Ladies Safety, as it offered no illustration of the machine and promised only that the machine was “in rapid process of construction” and “designed to meet the requirements of ladies, light-weight men, and boys” (20). There is no indication of what these requirements might be or how these disparate groups might even share requirements. And despite giving the wheel an obviously feminine name, the ad’s mention of men and boys reveals that the company remained reluctant to market the Victoria exclusively to women.

Drive as fast as I please, she can do nothing but increase the speed or remain passive. I attempted to console her by explaining that there was nothing whatever to prevent her from working just as hard as she wanted to, and that the removal of distracting duties would enable her to concentrate more thoroughly her energies on the pedals. (“Tricycle Notes”) Mrs. Ixion’s complaints demonstrate her increasing ownership over cycling as an activity she shares with her husband, rather than one in which she partakes only occasionally as a companion.

The chapter concludes with a brief look at the 1890s bicycle craze. The Small and Stable Network of the Masculine High-Wheeled Bicycle When Mark Twain first learned to ride the Ordinary in the mid-1880s, he described his experience humorously in terms that emphasized both his wonderment and his initial ineptitude: 4 Introduction You hop along behind it on your right foot, resting the other on the mounting peg, and grasping the tiller with your hands. At the word, you rise on the peg, stiffen your left leg, hang your other one around in the air in a general and indefinite way, lean your stomach against the rear of the saddle, and then fall off, maybe on one side, maybe on the other; but you fall off.

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