"20th Anniversary Feminist Workshop Retrospective: The History and Future of a Space and its Knowledges"

full name / name of organization: 
2011 CCCC

The 2011 CCCC, marks the 20th anniversary of the Feminist Workshop, a place where themes of contested space and contested knowledge have been ever-present. That classrooms, academies, and publications afford different levels of access to different teaching, publishing, researching, and theorizing bodies (and bodies of knowledge) has been a primary concern of feminist work. Further, popular notions of scholarship, diversity, hierarchy, resistance, violence, boundaries, collaboration, equity, maternity, reclamation, identity, authority, (inter)disciplinarity, and community are frequently far more complicated than we would like to admit; thus the driving questions of feminist projects have focused on investigating and changing these inequities. In the Feminist Workshop participants have (1) attested to the lived experience of feminist scholars, (2) contested and negotiated those spaces and knowledges hostile to women, and (3) contested and negotiated the scholarship and pedagogy enacted in those spaces.

But feminist work has not simply been a project of antagonism to spaces and knowledges controlled by others. As Jaqueline Jones Royster pointed out in her 2010 Feminist Workshop keynote address, feminist analysis is reflexive, it thinks about its own spaces and knowledges. Her ideas were enacted at the 2010 panel "Feminisms and Rhetorics" where Royster, Cheryl Glenn, Andrea Lunsford, and Shirley Wilson Logan considered how projects that recover and recuperate female figures have tended to eclipse other ways in which feminist work might invigorate theory, practice, history, and pedagogy.

Historically, thematically, and theoretically the time is right for the Feminist Workshop to undertake a prospective retrospective that considers just what this space is, what knowledge it might be said to produce, and what from its past might inform its future.

To investigate these changes, the first portion of the workshop will feature personal histories of the feminist workshop from scholars active at various points in the workshop's past—before and during its inception, in its early and middle years, and in its recent iterations. And the second portion of the workshop will feature small roundtable presentation and discussion of contemporary concerns of feminist work.

We invite proposals for this second portion of the workshop. Specifically, we are interested in hearing brief (5-8 minute) presentations about the key feminist issues in your own universities and lives that reflect changing and continuing issues in the field. We hope that these presentations will reveal needs that the Feminist Workshop could and/or should address in the future.

Proposed presentations should seek to answer one or more of the following questions:

  • How does the lived experience of female TAs differ from that of male TAs? What sort of mentoring is available to female TAs?
  • What, if any, feminist coursework is available for undergraduate and graduate students and how does that work to create a feminist ethos in and about fields of knowledge?
  • Are there salary differentials between male and female scholars (faculty, lecturers, acting instructors, teaching assistants)? What has been done to address such discrepancies? What have been the obstacles or encouragements to changing those material conditions?
  • What is the structure of feminist/gender/women studies at your university (especially as it does or does not exist in connection to composition)? What does that structure reveal about issues of contested space and knowledge?
  • How have feminist issues positively shaped or influenced your department or university at large?
  • What kinds of successful advocacy partnerships with organizations and persons outside of the university have you formed around feminist issues? What have been the challenges to forging such partnerships? What has made those partnerships successful?
  • How do students and faculty maintain activist feminist energies in the face of limited change and heavy workloads? What have been encouragements and discouragements of that energy?
  • How have feminist projects constructed themselves to be inclusive and accessible to persons of various color, class, and sexuality? What have been the limitations to establishing inclusivity?
  • What publishing spaces exist for feminist writing? What is the reach and purpose of such publication? Is it accommodating to what you see as feminist modes of inquiry and argumentation?
  • Has something you learned or a collaboration you started in the feminist workshop influenced the feminist work happening on your campus? In your own work?
  • What has been your experience in the "contested space" between the identity/oppositional priorities of second wave thinking and the performative/coalitional priorities of the third wave? What does that reveal about where questions of feminism are taking us now?
  • How has "academic discourse" and the politics of publication/tenure/curriculum requirements stunted communication inside and outside of feminist rhetoric and composition studies?
  • How might the Workshop address some of these issues? How can we rejuvenate the Workshop to draw in more graduate students and faculty?

Accepted presenters and titles will be listed on the program and there may be an opportunity to participate in a publication resulting from the work done at the 2011 Feminist Workshop.
Please submit abstracts for roundtable presentations (5-8 minutes). Presentations outside of the traditional paper format (multimedia, performative reading, interactive, etc.) and from a larger interdisciplinary audience are especially welcome. Please submit abstracts of no more than one double-spaced page to 4CFeministWorkshop@gmail.com by April 22, 2010.