Date of Award

August 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Member

Michelle C Smith

Committee Member

Jordan Frith

Committee Member

Bryan Denham

Committee Member

Kristen Okamoto


This project studies at the intersection of gender, rhetoric, and running, examining, in particular, the way rhetorics are gendered in institutional and vernacular spaces surrounding coed and women’s running events. It asks: In what ways are rhetorics of coed and women’s running events gendered? What are the similarities and differences between institutional and vernacular rhetorics in these events? How are rhetorics in virtual events gendered digitally? Conducting a rhetorical analysis of institutional and vernacular rhetorics offers new perspectives on women’s lived experiences and provides a deeper understanding of gendered rhetorics in women’s running events. Princesses, Divas, and Mother Runners: Gendered Institutional and Vernacular Rhetorics in Running Events addresses these questions by examining women’s relationships with running throughout history and considering how contemporary running rhetorics affect women’s embodiment, emotions, and participation in the sport. The introduction, On Women, Rhetoric, and Running, provides an overview of the three broad conversations that this project contributes to: feminist rhetorical studies, feminist material rhetorics, and gender in sports and leisure. In addition, it outlines the three theoretical frameworks leveraged in this work, including embodied vernacularity, “everyday” material feminist, and intersectionality. Using a bricolage approach with these theoretical frameworks allows the artifacts to be viewed through a gendered, intersectional, rhetorical lens. The second chapter, Protection and Altruism: A Rhetorical History of Women's Running describes the context in which women’s running emerged, specifically exploring rhetorical themes that influenced women’s participation. The third and fourth chapters—titled, respectively, Space and Emotion: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Coed Running Events and Princesses and Divas: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Women’s Running Events examines discourses shaping women’s experiences in the world of running, both rhetorically and materially. Specifically, these chapters explore coed and women’s running events, respectively, analyzing rhetorical themes unique to these categories of events. Finally, the fifth chapter, Running as a Networked Activity: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Women’s Running Events, probes the relationship between virtual running events and digital technologies. To conclude, the Afterword: The Last Mile pulls the thread through all the race modalities to provide a glimpse into the future of women’s running.



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