Author(s): Clancy Ratliff
Cover Art by Jody Shipka:
Jody Shipka is an associate professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she teaches courses in the Communication and Technology Track. She is the author of Toward a Composition Made Whole and her work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Enculturation, Itineration, Kairos, Text and Talk, and a number of edited collections, including: Multimodal Literacies and Emerging Genres in Student Compositions; Assembling Composition; Exquisite Corpse: Studio Art-Based Writing Practices in the Academy, Mobility Work in Composition, and Provocations: Reconstructing the Archive. In 2021, a Portuguese translation of her College English article, “Transmodality in/and Processes of Making: Changing Dispositions and Practice,” was published in the journal Revista Investigações.
We are approaching the tenth anniversary of Peitho’s transition from newsletter to journal and the 26th anniversary of its beginning as newsletter. When we started as the editorial team, we noticed right away that the tenth anniversary would happen during our term. Because summer had traditionally been the season of our special issues, we decided that this issue would be a Cluster Conversation about the tenth anniversary of the journal, and we posted a call for contributions in February 2022. Cluster Conversations afford a lot of flexibility in terms of genre and length of manuscript, encouraging shorter and longer essays. I (Clancy) am the co-editor in charge of Recoveries and Reconsiderations and special sections, which includes special issues, Cluster Conversations, and memorials, so I am the editor of this issue and the author of this introduction.
This journal is named for Peitho, the goddess of persuasion, not to be confused with Rhetorica, an image from one of Mantegna Tarocchi’s cards that personifies the art of rhetoric (there are cards for Philosofia and Geometria too, among others). I thought about the goddess when trying to come up with ideas for the cover, but I had nothing specific in mind. However, recently I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I saw a post from Dr. Jody Shipka, whose art and rhetorical critique in multiple media, including cake and cookies, always impress me. She had been experimenting with drawing, and she posted the image on the right below. According to Shipka, it was simply a practice sketch; she had been drawing objects and animals and wanted to get better at drawing people. This sketch was based on a random image from an image search for bald heads, because Shipka wanted to focus her practice that day on the proportions and shapes of heads without hair. I didn’t know that backstory until later, but in a turn of unintended consequences, on that day her drawing struck me immediately as a perfect piece of cover art for this issue, as a new, reimagined look for the goddess Peitho. Shipka graciously agreed to let us use the image for this issue’s cover. I thought about the “how it started/how it’s going” meme template for the transformation of the image of the goddess:
This goddess is angry. She is tired of bad-faith argumentation; disinformation; both sides-ism; people who put other people’s existence, humanity, and rights up for debate; settler colonialist narratives that are presented as objective history; book banning; tone policing; mansplaining; misgendering; and microaggressions. She is the goddess for this moment.
As we reflect on the past decade and look to the future, the Peitho editorial team seeks to bring these sentiments to the journal as well. Part of the reflection and preparation for this tenth anniversary issue involved an impromptu graduate course focusing on the journal, which I will describe.
The Peitho Course
At my university, like many others, we are underfunded and trying to keep costs as low as possible for students. Faculty members retire, and we are not given permission to replace them; instead, we hire and rely on Visiting Assistant Professors and instructors on temporary, one-year appointments, to teach undergraduate and graduate students. In the summer of 2021, we lost one of our VAPs, who had received another offer for a permanent position. We were happy for her, but we soon had to turn to the course schedule for the fall to decide whether to cancel or reassign her courses. One of them was a cross-listed undergraduate/graduate course about feminist studies. Her theme had been Caribbean Women Writers, and the class was full. I didn’t want those students to miss out on the opportunity to take a feminist studies course, so on short notice, I decided to teach it as an overload with the topic Publishing Feminist Research. The class would be a deep dive into the archives of Peitho. The nearly ten years of issues of the journal would be our course text, and I would fold in some content about journal editing and the peer review process. It would keep the class from being canceled as well as give me rich preparation for the tenth anniversary issue.
I contacted the students individually to explain the situation and to propose the new topic. I asked if they would still be interested in taking the course with me and the new topic, and I assured them that I understood if they wanted to make other plans and take a different course instead. Most of the students wanted to stick with the class, so we proceeded. The archives of Peitho provided ample material for discussion about theories and methods used in feminist research, as well as historiography, uses of archives, and intersectionality. The students in the class served as the selection committee for the two articles we nominated for the Best of the Journals in Rhetoric and Composition volume (more on that in the next section!). As we discussed each article in the previous volume year with the task not only of analyzing the articles but specifically evaluating their quality, we raised the question of what makes a great scholarly article in feminist studies. We came up with these criteria:
- relevance to a wide audience in gender and sexuality studies
- methodological sophistication, impressive use of archives, years of ethnographic observation, etc.
- accessibility in writing style, organization
- creativity, in writing style, genre, or theoretical approach
- historical awareness (not engaging in ahistoricity)
- adhering to highest standards of ethics and respect in dealing with human participants, sacred cultural artifacts, etc.
- inclusivity, mindfulness of multiple perspectives: transgender, race, disability, age, class, etc.; demonstrating this by citing BIPOC, transgender, and disabled scholars
- not engaging in erasure
- global awareness, transnational approach; understanding of imperialism, colonialism, neoliberalism, postcolonialism
The Editorial Team will likely keep these criteria for nominating articles for the series going forward. Students each wrote brief statements selecting two articles from the volume year with explanations of why they chose each one. They did other projects as well, including audio recordings of Peitho articles for possible future use as a podcast series, similar to the audio recordings that Kyle Stedman did of each chapter of the book Bad Ideas About Writing. I am grateful for their engagement in the archives of the journal, and though it wasn’t the Caribbean Women Writers class they had intended to take, I hope they got something out of the course.
Peitho x Best of the Journals
Congratulations to Efe Franca Plange, whose article “The Pepper Manual: Towards Situated Non-Western Feminist Rhetorical Practices” was selected to represent Peitho in the 2021 edition of Best of the Journals in Rhetoric and Composition. This is the first year that Peitho has been part of the Best of the Journals series, and we are thrilled to participate. Starting with our term as editors, one of the responsibilities of the Editorial Team will be to look back at the past volume year and nominate two articles that will go forward to the series editors at Parlor Press, who have a review and selection process to determine which of the two will appear in Best of the Journals. Because this is the final issue of volume 24, we are preparing to decide on our two nominations now. We welcome reader feedback; if a particular article stood out to you, please write to us and let us know.
In This Issue
First we have Barbara L’Eplattenier and Lisa Mastrangelo’s essay about the process of transforming Peitho from a newsletter into a journal: a complex endeavor that was slow and incremental. It tells the story of how we got here.
Sarah Keeton’s powerful autoethnographic essay positions them within and against the theory and research in feminisms and rhetorics, including work that has been published in this journal, and meditates beautifully on critical love, loving, becoming, and learning.
Abby Breyer’s outstanding survey of the archives of the journal does painstaking work studying the topics, theories, methods, and approaches of each article in each issue, and she provides a narrative of herself integrating the scholarship into her own understanding of the field.
Samira Grayson’s article is of special interest to me, as it addresses evidence of collaboration in the Peitho archives. We want to believe that feminist work is highly collaborative and centered in relationships, and often it is, but Grayson’s findings show that our archives do not include that many coauthored articles. Collaborative writing is a feminist model of authorship, but we don’t necessarily see it more in Peitho than in other journals. (This issue, however, is half co-authored!) Grayson recognizes, though, that co-authorship is only one of many forms of collaboration.
Michelle Smith and Haley Swartz provide a thorough intellectual history of the material turn in feminist rhetorics, tracking engagement with the material as a concept through the archives of the newsletter, as it became part of a story of the discipline alongside recovery work and retheorizing rhetorics.
Tarez Samra Graban, Holly Hassel, and Kate Pantelides offer a comprehensive history of both the CFSHRC and the CCCC Feminist Caucus. They show the formation and growth of these groups as well as the difference they have made for generations of women in the field.
Lynée Lewis Gaillet’s essay is a reflection on her time as a member of (and officer in) the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. This journal is the house organ of a professional organization, and it is important to tell the story of that body to understand an important part of the journal’s context. Gaillet shares how the CFSHRC grew over a period of years, thanks to intergenerational, multidirectional mentoring.
Laura Micciche etc. have a beautiful reflection on the memorial tributes that have been published in Peitho over the years. During our term as editors, we have published memorials for Lisa Ede and bell hooks. We thought of it as simple commemoration and making our written memories part of the archival record of our field, but they show a deeper, instructive function of the memorials, a recommitment to mentoring and loving others as part of the legacy of these women.
I would like to hold space here for some other people we have lost, far too soon, who passed away before our term as co-editors began, people we would also like to memorialize in Peitho: Genevieve Critel, a graduate student at The Ohio State University, who passed away May 26, 2012. Carolyn Handa, professor at the University of Alabama, who passed away March 12, 2014. Amy Rupiper Taggart, professor at North Dakota State University, who passed away June 13, 2017. Katie McWain, professor at Texas Woman’s University, who passed away September 15, 2019. Joyce Irene Middleton, professor at East Carolina University and former president of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, who passed away April 13, 2020. We remember.
Upcoming Plans: Cluster Conversations and Summer 2023 Special Issue
Several months ago, we posted a call for proposals for special issues, with the goal of finding a theme for the summer 2023 issue. The Editorial Board reviewed the proposals and made the difficult decision to select only one for summer 2023. The proposals were all excellent, and some of them will be published in future issues as Cluster Conversations. The first of these will be in the Spring 2023 issue: (CTRL-)Shifting Practices: Advancing Internet Research Ethics through Feminist Rhetorics, edited by Kristi McDuffie and Melissa Ames. The theme of the Summer 2023 special issue will be “Coalition as Commonplace: Centering Feminist Scholarship, Pedagogies, and Leadership Practices,” guest edited by Angela Clark-Oates, Sherry Rankins-Robertson, and Aurora Matzke, and the call for proposals is included in this issue.
In closing, we urge readers to join in the overall Peitho project in any way you like: submit a manuscript, review a manuscript, write a book review, offer feedback on articles that moved you in one way or another or what you’d like to see in the journal, apply for our vacant Associate Editor position (that search will begin soon), assign an article in your course, create some art that we can use for the cover of a future issue, volunteer to mentor an author as they revise their manuscript, and please do stop by the Peitho tables that will appear at future conferences.