Woman Arise! : Political Work in the Writings of Lu Dalton
Brigham Young University
In 1872, Mormon plural wife, educator, and suffragist Lucinda Lee Dalton began writing fiery political essays and insightful poetry for the Woman's Exponent from her small community in southern Utah. Through her writings Dalton endeavors to shape the opinions of Exponent readers by working within public discourse toward the goal of equality for women. At times both optimistic and troubled, she uses the rhetorical strategies of humor, irony, reason, identification, and persuasion to educate men and women on disparities and to encourage women to participate actively in their emancipation. She often engages in a dialogical process with other writers by crafting both polemic and poetic responses to specific writings in order to work toward greater insight on critical issues. As an essayist Dalton defends her religion, calls for the expansion of women's political and economic opportunities, and asserts that the elevation of women is crucial to achieving the potential of both sexes. As a poet she is a compelling writer who reveals in her poems her apprehensions and aspirations, her faith and feminism. Much of her poetry reflects the same commitment to reform that is clear in her essays, and she uses both genres do effective political work. This thesis uses a pluralist approach to recover Lu Dalton as an important early Mormon writer. It articulates her merit as a representative voice by evaluating the historical context and rhetorical function of her published writings in which she actively calls for broad societal reform, writing on women's roles, political rights, and relationship with God and men.