This article examines the ways in which Indian folk narratives are reinterpreted and appropriated within an Indian American school context to serve as inventional resources in rhetorical texts that support the reflection upon the potential for social change. More specifically, the appropriations of the Hindu folk heroine Savitri are traced as she is transfigured within (1) a liberal feminist retelling of the tale by Madhur Jaffrey and (2) a diasporic reframing of this story as exhibiting a sort of “Girl Power” by a student at the School for Indian Languages and Cultures (SILC) through a pictorial representation that functions as a piece of visual rhetoric. It is argued that these representations are characterized by a “critical play” that treats Savitri as a hermeneutic resource for rhetorical invention in order to advance multifaceted arguments about gender roles for women in India and South Asian American contexts. Th is work was inspired by my observations that SILC teachers and students sometimes used storytelling practices and performances for rhetorical purposes—to address exigencies in their communities, build constituencies, to assert diasporic identities, or to articulate social concerns. This rhetorical work was evident in stories that were intended to appear “traditional,” as well as those in which traditional elements were critically and eclectically transformed.
"Savitri’s Stories and Girl Power: Rhetorical Approaches to Feminism(s) in Indian American Ethnic Schools,"
Storytelling, Self, Society: Vol. 9:
2, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/storytelling/vol9/iss2/1