Living Feminist Lives: Looking Forward & Reflecting Back on the Feminist Workshop at CCCC

Guest Blog by Rachel Chapman Daugherty, Texas Christian University; Lydia McDermott, Whitman College; and Patty Wilde, Washington State University Tri-Cities

Greetings from the 2019 Feminist Workshop co-chairs! This year’s workshop, sponsored by the Feminist Caucus, “Living Feminist Lives: Materialities, Methodologies, and Practices” continues a conversation that we started in Kansas City last year on intersectionality. Both a tool for “critical inquiry and praxis” (Collins and Bilge 31), intersectionality calls us to recognize intragroup differences in experiences of oppression and work to dismantle the systems that create such inequities. Using this lens to consider both professional and personal issues, we began to explore ways that intersectionality can help us recognize, challenge, and change the inequities that we encounter in the everyday labors that we conduct as feminist teachers, administrators, scholars, and rhetors. This year, we turn this intersectional lens onto our lives as feminists. Echoing Sarah Ahmed, we urge panelists and participants to ask:

ethical questions about how to live better in an unjust and unequal world…how to create relationships with others that are more equal; how to find ways to support those who are not supported or are less supported by social systems; how to keep coming up against histories that have become concrete, histories that have become as solid as walls. (1)

We recognize that the practice of intersectional feminisms is ongoing and recursive. We cannot check the box and be done. To this end, we’re excited to carry forward the conversations and connections formed during the 2018 workshop into this year. We will continue to explore ways to use intersectionality to resist and transform the systemic biases that we encounter in our classrooms, in the field, in the academy, and beyond.

Feminist Workshop 2019

In this year’s workshop, we have an exciting lineup of presenters and topics focusing on ways to do feminist work toward a more equitable future. In the morning, presentations focus on methods of archival and transfer research. They will include discussion of methods of transnational archival work that avoid the trappings of neo-colonialism by Tarez Samra Graban, and the archival work of Raquel Corona, which seeks to understand Dominican feminist history on its own terms. Helen Sandoval will ask us how to hear the voices and see the bodies of the women of color whose history is one of exclusion. Meanwhile, Lena Liedtke will ask us in what ways a feminist lens might reveal hidden biases and power struggles in teaching models that encourage transfer. Pamela Takayoshi will end our morning with a reflection of the part passion does and should play in our academic research.

The afternoon promises to be just as engaging, beginning with a presentation by collaborators, Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa Kirsch, who will reflect on how they enact, embody, and teach feminist rhetorical practices in scholarship and teaching, in institutions and in communities. Continuing the discussion of how living feminist lives should impact our communities, Lara Smith-Sitton will discuss her involvement with a project with Georgia refugees impacted by DACA. Finally, Tamika Carey will bring us to rhetorics of impatience that highlight the public and private work of self-care that bell hooks and other feminist scholars consider essential for wellness, work that involves making “it evident to all observers of our social reality that black women deserve care.”

Feminist Workshop 2018

As we look forward to continuing this work in a few short weeks at CCCC in Pittsburgh, we want to take a moment to recall and reflect upon the conversations that transpired last year. Our 2018 workshop “Feminist Rhetorics of Resistance and Transformation” asked presenters to consider methods for cultivating feminist pedagogical techniques, mentoring of students and colleagues, and providing opportunities for the examination of disciplinary theory as a springboard for conversations on professional narratives of success in rhetoric and composition and across the academy. Our presenters responded by sharing narratives, resources, and strategies for intersectional academic work along two main themes: ways our field currently engages with intersectional modes and methods, and strategies for forging forward with intersectional praxis.

Photo by Alexandra Hidalgo, 2018 Feminist Workshop

Addressing the first theme, David Corwin, Thomas Polk, Robyn Russo, and Lacey Wooton highlighted how feminist research methods encourage collaboration and reciprocity, but feminist researchers are less likely to identify themselves as such. Vani Kannan’s archival research on The Third World Women’s Alliance showed that historical practices and pedagogies of anti-imperialist intersectional practices can offer grassroots methods for intersectional interventions. Rounding out our morning panel, Alexandra Hidalgo argued that a feminist approach to storytelling honors the intersectionality of relationships, demonstrating these practices by sharing her own documentary film Desaparecido, which weaves together home videos and her own family history research to create resistant counternarratives through storytelling.

Kicking off the afternoon session, Leslie Anglesey explored intersections of feminist and disability rhetoric as a way of resisting the institutional forces that seek to silence these perspectives. Drawing on her experiences transitioning from WPA in an English Department to a university faculty development position, Staci Perryman-Clark discussed how applications of Afrafeminism shape the ways in which Black women navigate higher education leadership. Continuing a questioning stance toward Western patriarchal power structures, Malea Powell looked at how indigenous women scholars bring the traditional role of "aunty" with them into their lives as feminists, teachers, scholars, and community members in organizations like the CCCC. Concluding the day, Krista Ratcliffe explored how a practice of rhetorical listening can help us formulate multiple responses, especially given the recent rise of "alt right" discourse in the mainstream public sphere.

We look forward to resuming our conversations on intersectionality at the 2019 CCCC Feminist Workshop in Pittsburgh, PA. Please join us as we spend the day contemplating “living feminist lives” as teacher-scholars of rhetoric and composition. If you have questions, please contact the Feminist Workshop Chairs Lydia McDermott at mcdermlm@whitman.edu and Patty Wilde at patty.wilde@wsu.edu.

Archived live Tweets from previous years can be found at #4C18femwk #4C17femwk #4c16femwk #4c2015femwork

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Feminist Workshop 2019 Co-Chairs:

Lydia McDermott, Whitman College
Patty Wilde, Washington State University Tri-Cities
Violet Dutcher, Eastern Mennonite University
Sherry Rankins-Robertson, University of Arkansas
Angela Clark-Oates, California State University, Sacramento
Kate Pantelides, Middle Tennessee State University
Kayla K. Bruce, Olivet Nazarene University
Rachel Chapman Daugherty, Texas Christian University
Holly Hassel, North Dakota State University
Erin Wecker, University of Montana
Mindy Williams, Central Oregon Community College
Sara DiCaglio, Texas A&M University
Lana Oweidat, Goucher College
Leslie Anglesey, University of Nevada Reno

Works Cited

Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life. Duke UP, 2017.

Collins, Patricia Hill, and Mirna Blige. Intersectionality. Polity Press, 2016.