Historical Rhetorics/Sophists Old and New/Wick, Audrey. “The Feminist Sophistic Enterprise: From Euripides to the Vietnam War.”

Wick, Audrey. “The Feminist Sophistic Enterprise: From Euripides to the Vietnam War.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 22.1 (1992): 27-38.

Wick argues that the disruption of both the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greek society and the Vietnam War in American society created the space for cultural change, opening “questions about the status of citizenship, economic privilege, family life, and, of course, gender roles” (27). Cultural change, endorsed by those who have been excluded and resisted by those who fear the loss of privilege, can be achieved through sophistic methods that enable the marginalized to question the dominant through “the discovery and exposition” of dissoi logoi, or opposing arguments (27). Wick argues that a feminist sophistic speaks “from and for a political community,” as the first sophists did, and is therefore best able to address the need for diverse interpretations of gender roles and family dynamics (37). For Wick, the tragedian Euripides provides examples of a feminist sophistic through his plays, where his characters face agonizing choices and alternate mythologies allow him to question the nature of men, women, honor, and war, critiquing society often through a feminine voice. The original sophistic project was replaced by the “monolithic patriarchal certainty of Plato and Aristotle,” but Wick seeks to prevent such a closure in our post-Vietnam society by encouraging the use of sophistic methods to keep pluralistic arguments and questions about the nature of gender roles open (27).