The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Department of English

Anna Cooper, "Womanhood a Vital Element
in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race"

  1. What is Anna Cooper's audience, and is her argument designed to appeal to its members? What do you think would have been the gender composition of her audience?
  2. With which of her arguments do you think her audience would likely have agreed? What are some bold or controversial elements of her appeal?
  3. How does she use a common adherence to cultural and Biblical traditions to buttress her appeals on behalf of African-American women?
  4. What are her views of other cultures? How do you think these were derived? How is the appeal to American superiority used in support of her aims?
  5. What are her views on medieval history, and on chivalry? How are these used to support the equality of women?
  6. What seem to be her fears about the fate of southern black women?
  7. How do you interpret her views on other Protestant denominations? To what does she ascribe the Protestant Episcopal Church's reluctance to evangelize among African-Americans? Its failure to provide schools for African-American women?
  8. On what grounds does she make her final appeal to the audience?
  9. What are some features of her style and mode of argument? Do you think this would have been an effective speech?

Ida B. Wells, A Red Record

  1. How does Ida Wells make her argument against lynching? What evidence does she give of a pervasive practice?
  2. How does she interpret the stages in the rationalizations given for murder? Are these convincing?
  3. What are some features of her style? Is it effective?
  4. Which elements of this treatise would have seemed especially bold?
  5. What means does she propose for helping to bring about reform?
  6. What was meant by "rape," according to Wells's explanation?
  7. Do some of the problems she identifies still have some counterparts today?

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