Edited collection - Call for essay proposals: Interminable Rhetorics: Women and Gendered Labor in a Post-2020 Economy

deadline for submissions: 
May 14, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Lynée Lewis Gaillet and Jessica McCrary, Georgia State University
contact email: 

We seek articles that explore how the conflation of 2020 events played out in the lives of women.

In 2020, women juggled professional careers and education, childcare and homeschooling, caregiving responsibilities for older family members, and unpaid household labor in the midst of a global pandemic. “Juggling” is perhaps too euphemistic a term for the kinds of pressures and decisions women made, willingly or not, in 2020. In a year that was at once the same experience and unique to every person, women know “the personal may be political, but the difficulties for women that feel personal are actually systemic” (Cheryl Glenn, Rhetorical Feminism and this Thing Called Hope, 73).

While job reports continue to show growth, closer examination of the numbers reveal gains for men, with shocking losses for women, especially Black and Latina women (McGrath, Forbes Jan. 2021). In Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, Caroline Criado Perez explains the data gap existent in the very way we measure economic output and gross domestic product (GDP). She suggests that uncalculated and unpaid care work could account for up to 50% of GDP in high-income countries, and as much as 80% of GDP in low-income countries” (108). Women’s “workdays” are greatly extended when adding in unrecognized labor. Of course, this information isn’t new (Gerson), but in 2020 the pressures and impossible standards of the work that women are regularly asked to perform came into sharp relief when a global pandemic altered the patterns and responsibilities of professional work, education, family life, business operations, communication, caregiving, leisure time, and rest.

We seek contributions that extend recent scholarly explorations of women’s labor to explore how women worked, succeeded, and failed during 2020. Recognizing that home and its relationship to women’s work has never been homogenous, what might 2020 events mean for the future of work, institutions, families, communities, and the nation?

We especially welcome essays that address the following prompts:

  • The financial and emotional ramifications of women dropping out of the workforce in record numbers
  • How scholars can engage feminist rhetorical theories to talk about and historicize work experiences occurring in the collapsed spaces of the pandemic
  • Ways in which research practices and scholarly productivity were altered by the pandemic and shutdowns
  • How gendered, raced, and/or classed work-life expectations affect labor
  • Collapsed spatial lives during a pandemic
  • Rhetoric of productivity
  • Work and childcare issues
  • The potential long-term repercussions from the ways in which 2020 events delayed professional advancement, retirement, resignation, etc.
  • The demands of online teaching and administration
  • The costs of emotional labor
  • Self-care responsibilities, motivations, and obligations
  • Examples of historical labor narratives that offer commentary or antecedents for the present moment

Please send 500-word proposals along with 100-word bios and contact information to Lyneé Lewis Gaillet and Jessica Edens McCrary at lgaillet@gsu.edu and jmccrary@gsu.edu

Proposals Due: Extended - May 14, 2021

Notification of Acceptance:  May 30, 2021

Manuscripts Due: September 15, 2021