Feminist Connections: Rhetorical Strategies from the Suffragists to the Cyberfeminists

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
University of Memphis

Feminist Connections: Rhetorical Strategies from the Suffragists to the Cyberfeminists

Following a panel on feminist action in public spheres at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication, panelists and attendees began discussing the efficacy of various feminist rhetorical activities. Some suggested online spaces might prevent feminist conversations while others responded that perhaps digital spaces require us to think about those conversations (and feminist rhetorical action) differently. Indeed, as the technologies delivering feminist messages have changed, feminist rhetorical tactics have often developed upon those that preceded them while, at the same time, giving feminist messages new life. For example, in her examination of grrrl zines, Alison Piepmeier traces a feminist trajectory from nineteenth-century women’s club scrapbooks to second wave feminists’ mimeographed manifestos to grrrl zines of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. However, many such connections between feminists of different spaces, places, and eras have yet to be considered let alone understood. For instance, in 1917, Alice Paul and other suffragettes famously picketed in front of the White House while holding banners with short, pithy sayings such as, “Mr. President: How long must women wait for Liberty?” Their juxtaposition of this short phrase with the image of the White House (a symbol of liberty and justice) relies on the same rhetorical tactics as memes, a genre contemporary feminists have used to make arguments about reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, and sex-positivity to name a few. By making and exploring this type of connection between feminist rhetorical actions of different times and spaces, we are able to understand feminist rhetorical strategies as linked, complex, and intergenerational.

Some scholars (e.g., Enoch, Bessette, and VanHaitsma; Hawisher and Selfe; Royster and Kirsch; Rawson) have begun making connections between the historical and the digital. On the whole, however, the three of us perceive a disconnect between conversations in historical women’s rhetoric and in digital feminist rhetorics. Although we are sometimes in the same physical (e.g., Feminisms and Rhetorics conferences) and digital (e.g., issues of Peitho) spaces, rarely do we call attention to/focus on the connections between and among our work or think about how these connections can help us rethink work in our subfields. Therefore, we look to extend the conversation that began at the 2016 CCCC by creating an edited collection that considers the historical and digital together—ultimately, informing our understanding of feminist rhetorical strategies more generally.

Chapter proposals should explore, in Royster and Kirsch’s words, “how the past can reach into the present and how the close at hand might reach toward the distant and further away, thus helping all of us to imagine a future worth working toward as a more inclusive enterprise.” This collection will serve as a space for us to think through and make visible the connections between feminists of different time periods, spaces, and locations. Contributors should create and highlight feminist connections by bridging the historical and digital in order to expose how feminist conversations and rhetorical strategies have transformed from the 19th century to the present and by considering how digital feminist strategies can help us rethink historical rhetorics (and vice versa).

We are committed to featuring a range of contributions from scholars of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and we welcome collaborations. We do not expect all proposals to discuss both the 19th century and the digital, but we do expect proposals to make connections between time periods, spaces, and locations. We especially welcome work that responds to the following questions while considering race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, age, ability, and/or religion:

Proposals may consider (but are not limited to) the following questions:
How have contemporary feminists adapted or remixed earlier feminist rhetorical strategies?
How has a specific (proto)feminist rhetorical strategy manifested itself in different times and/or places?
How have feminist conversations evolved, mutated, or changed as a result of technological advances such as the popular printing press, the television, or the Internet?
How have the ways feminists communicate with one another changed as a result of technological advances?
How have (or how might) technological advances influenced the opportunities and limitations for feminist organizing, protest, and action?
How have feminists of different time periods, spaces, and locations found ways to have conversations with those whose experiences do not mirror their own and/or with those who challenge dominant feminist discourses?
How have feminists developed rhetorical spaces and tactics to foster, challenge, and/or alter feminist conversations?
How have rhetors used (proto)feminist rhetorical action to address issues related to identity and embodiment? And how do technologies contribute to producing and shaping knowledge about these issues?
How have global projects and/or issues influenced feminist rhetorical practices both historically and in the present day?

Please submit 500-word proposals to feministconnectionscollection@gmail.com by October 1, 2016. Proposals should be accompanied by a short biography (~100 words) and CV. Notification of acceptance will be given by December 1, 2016. Completed submissions will be due March 1, 2017.

Dr. Katherine Fredlund, University of Memphis
Dr. Kerri Hauman, Transylvania University
Dr. Jessica Ouellette, University of Southern Maine