Writing Our Future: Feminist Collaborations between CCCC Feminist Caucus and the Coalition

Because of our shared interest in feminist work within writing studies and rhetoric, the co-authors, who are 2 of 4 co-chairs of the Feminist Caucus, provide here a brief history of the work of our group, projects that overlap with the values and interests of Coalition members, and an update on our current project, creating a online archive of the Feminist Workshop held annually at CCCC. We also describe some ideas we've been co-developing with Coalition president Tarez Graban for collaborative ventures in the future. 

Background
The CCCC Feminist Caucus originated from the 1978 establishment of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession (CSWP), a group that was created to address issues largely focused on labor, status, and equity. In the CCCC Constitution, Special Committees are charged for a time period of 3 years and renewed if requested with specific tasks and timelines by the Executive Committee. Because the group desired a more permanent status that didn't require ongoing renewal and allowed it to identify its own goals and priorities, we requested and received Standing Group status in 2016. Since then, we've renamed as the Feminist Caucus and have pursued a range of projects that allow us to respond to feminist issues across gender representation and advocate for visibility and equity for all members of the profession.

Feminist Caucus Projects and Sponsored Events

Feminist Workshop: One of the major areas of work for the CSWP has been the collaboration with and joint sponsorship of the annual Feminist Workshop, held each year at the CCCC annual convention on Wednesday. The workshop is offered as an all-day workshop that has a rotating theme and roster of participants. Like the Coalition, the Feminist Workshop has sought to be a generative and responsive space that creates room for dialogue on research, teaching, service, and praxis on feminist issues within rhetoric and composition studies.

Women’s Network SIG: At most of the annual meetings of CCCC since 1992, the SIG has offered women at CCCC an opportunity to share their disciplinary interests and concerns. Each year the SIG has had a focus that ranges from working conditions to professional status in the field to mentoring. When the CSWP became the Feminist Caucus, we decided to make the Feminist Workshop and the annual Business Meeting our primary areas of activity at the convention.

Childcare Grants: In the course of our information gathering for the archive, we reviewed past programs, and through that work noted that as early as 1991 (and likely prior), the group has led efforts to create family-friendly environments at the conference.

Excerpt from the 1991 CCCC program; the Child-Care Cooperative was one of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession's first official moves toward a more family-friendly convention.

Recognizing the ongoing nature of this need, the CSWP and now Feminist Caucus sponsor annually the availability of Childcare Grants for conference attendance (see last year's call here). Each year the requests for grant funding far exceed what our funds allow (last year 14 awards were given), and we continue to generate ideas about how to enhance the support we can offer in collaboration with the organization which covers the funds for the grants while the Feminist Caucus offers the labor to collect, review, and assess the impact of the grants. One of our co-chairs, Megan McIntyre, continues to explore ways that we might seek donations or fundraising opportunities to supplement the grants. If you are interested in helping with that work, contact Megan at mcintyme@sonoma.edu.

Feminist Workshop Archive: Given the long history of the Feminist Workshop at the annual CCCC Convention, the Feminist Caucus is committed to documenting the important work that has emerged from and taken place at the event each year. The Feminist Workshop Archive aims to collect materials (notes, formal documents, reflections from presenters, etc) that will document the rich history of the Workshop and its contributions to the field of composition and rhetoric. The skeleton of the archive is available here: Feminist Workshop Archive, and as of now is evolving as we build the architecture. The chairs, themes, and locations for each year's workshop have been added, and we are working to build a page for each year that includes the speakers and developers of the workshop's program. We invite you to review our work in progress--and to contact us if you would like to help contribute to the archive! We are interested in eventually building a rich set of content that might include reflections, documents, images, programs, or other digitally available artifacts that would showcase the history of this annual event.

Quilt Project: In 2018 in response to the CCCC Social Justice and Activism at the Convention invitation to consider ways to make the organization more inclusive and to mark the convention as an opportunity to renew our commitments to social justice, the Feminist Caucus began our quilt project. The quilting team -  Vi Dutcher, Holly Hassel,and Kate Pantelides - brought 100 squares to Kansas City, asking participants at the convention to mark their experience of the conference. Afterwards, Holly then assembled the quilt to commemorate the event.

In 2019 we displayed the Kansas City quilt, an assurance that we would not forget the important conversations that began before and continued throughout the convention. The impetus for our quilt collaboration with the Pittsburgh Center For Creative Reuse was a result of our experience in Kansas City: each convention should be an opportunity to change and be changed by the space we inhabit during the convention. We applied for and were awarded a CCCC Local Outreach Grant for the Pittsburgh Convention, which allowed us to work with PCCR. They curated recycled materials for our quilt project, brought sewing machines for us to use alongside their representatives, and taught visitors to the Feminist Caucus table in the Action Hub about sustainability broadly, and resuse specifically - certainly feminist concerns. Outreach to our host cities will continue to be a hallmark of the Feminist Caucus’s contributions to the convention.

Future Collaborations
In light of our shared interests as feminist scholars of writing studies and rhetoric, we are interested in seeking ways our two groups can work together in our professional spaces while still retaining our separate missions and goals. We imagine a future where our groups:

  1. Consider co-sponsoring an award.
  2. Establish a common project goal between the Coalition and the Feminist Caucus for each two-year term.
  3. Propose and prepare a series of joint sessions at CCCC 2021, FemRhet 2021 and RSA 2022 on the history of both groups.
  4. Establish reciprocal Board seats.

Questions? Ideas? Thoughts? Contact us: