Trespassing on Boundaries with Women's Archives (MLA 2017)

full name / name of organization: 
J. Ashley Foster and Margaret Galvan

CFP: Trespassing on Boundaries with Women's Archives (MLA 2017)

Call for Papers for a proposed special session at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Jan. 5-8, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA.

Over the past decade and a half, a diverse array of materials related to women and women's movements have inspired the creation of new archival collections and archives in university, grassroots, and digital spaces—from the founding of the Feminist Theory Collection at Brown University (2003) to the launch of Chicana Por Mi Raza (2009) and Independent Voices (2013) in digital spaces. In The Archival Turn in Feminism (2013), Kate Eichhorn explores how the rapid collection of third-wave feminist materials highlights a changing notion of the boundaries and possibilities of archives: "For a younger generation of feminists, the archive is not necessarily either a destination or an impenetrable barrier to be breached, but rather a site and practice integral to knowledge making, cultural production, and activism" (3). How do women's archives—both long-standing and new—trespass on archival boundaries? What role do archivists and researchers play in this process?

This MLA special session seeks to consider the multifaceted ways in which scholars blur, bust, expand, or trespass on boundaries while working in and recovering materials from women's archives. We will open a conversation exploring the numerous modalities of radicalized archival endeavors, theorizing how gender, women's studies, and feminism play a role in the archival space and the ensuing research.

Presentations might focus on how explorations in women's archives:
blur the boundaries between archivist, researcher, and archives
bust boundaries between the public and private realms
trespass on national boundaries
cross and subvert gender boundaries
encourage a different relationship to the archival and research processes
intersect with feminist theories that push cultural boundaries
blend temporal boundaries, thus bringing the past into the present

We also welcome papers that interrogate how the digitization process or disciplinary boundaries reinforce or complicate any of these considerations.

Please email your 250-word abstracts and short bios to Ashley Foster at and Margaret Galvan at by March 15. Submitters will receive notification of results by no later than April 1.

PLEASE NOTE: This CFP is for a proposed, not a guaranteed, session at MLA 2017, meaning it is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee (which will make its decisions after April 1). All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than April 7, 2016.