Using the methodology of third-wave feminist linguistic analysis, this article studies how one undergraduate writer, “Polly,” brings about her gendered identity as a leader of a social sorority through writing emails to motivate members to attend events. I offer a six-item taxonomy of the rhetorical strategies Polly uses to articulate the shared values of the sorority; excite members about events; and craft a unique, interesting, and relatable peer persona for herself. I connect each of Polly’s rhetorical strategies to research on gendered communication to understand how she uses the strategies to navigate her audience’s expectations of her gender and her leadership. A quantitative, temporal analysis of Polly’s use of all six strategies over the course of a year suggests that sororities (and other student organizations that offer leadership roles to students) present time and space for participants to try out a range of intellectual tools for different leadership personas, which can transfer to future rhetorical situations. This opportunity for rhetorical experimentation allows students to play and experiment with their public selves and group affinities.
sororities; literacy; leadership; e-mail; third-wave feminism