I am so very happy to present the first “Recoveries and Reconsiderations” section of Peitho! Perhaps the best way to explain the goals of this new feature is to draw on our initial call for submissions. As we stipulated in that call, one fundamental goal is to highlight and enhance the generative, recursive, and collaborative nature of research experiences:
We envision that “Recoveries and Reconsiderations” will…serve as a forum for sharing innovative perspectives on and application of existing feminist work, as well an incubator for new feminist research projects…In addition, we intend to provide a venue within feminist scholarly publishing that explicitly values the processes of discovery, invention, reflection, and complication. (“NEW Peitho Feature”)
With this objective in mind, we directed submitters to “close with a section that provides readers with questions to consider and/or ideas for future feminist engagement with the materials on which a submission focuses” (“NEW Peitho Feature”). This guidance, and the larger goal it supports, seeks to make scholarly research and publication less of an individual or small-group effort by encouraging scholars to share ideas and resources and by expanding the contexts in which scholars engage in what Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa Kirsch call “strategic contemplation.” Royster and Kirsch urge feminist scholars to take time to “pay attention to how lived experiences shape our perspectives as researchers and those of our research subjects” (22). Strategic contemplation, they elaborate, is essential for scholars wanting to produce more robust, and more ethical, scholarship:
[S]cholars have only recently begun to value the different layers of knowledge and understanding that can emerge when we attend to the world around us and in us: paying attention to the material realities of scholarly work, being mindful of the locations we visit (both archival sites and places where historical subjects lived)…By claiming a space for contemplation, reflection, and meditation, by observing without rushing to judgment, by noticing without the immediate need to analyze, classify, and establish hierarchies, we allow new vistas to come into view, unexpected leads to shape scholarly work, and new research questions to emerge. (22)
“Recoveries and Reconsiderations” is intended, in part, as a space for collaborative strategic contemplation, a place where scholars invite others to assist with uncovering “different layers of knowledge and understanding” through observation of materials, locations, and phenomena without a rush to judgment and without the foreclosures of an immediate leap to extensive analysis and classification. In this section, we hope that both readers and writers will witness new research vistas, engage unexpected scholarly leads, and identify new, generative research questions.
To this end, each contribution to this initial offering of “Recoveries and Reconsiderations” concludes with questions for readers to engage, descriptions of materials for further research, and/or suggestions for building upon the brief, contextualized accounts provided in the article. Mavis Boatemaa Beckson, for example, describes the value and power of beads among the Akan people of Ghana in order to emphasize the potential and necessity of (re)considering rhetorical objects in cultural, ethnic, and familial contexts beyond those that have, for too long, centered scholarship in Western, white rhetorical situations. The questions that conclude Beckson’s article can guide readers forward as they pursue this essential work. In a similar effort to support and propel other scholars, Kristina Lucenko offers a list of resources that might launch further study of the civility-challenging rhetorics of early Quaker women, and Lynée Lewis Gaillet includes details from the finding aids for the Margaret Scolari Barr papers at the Museum of Modern Art. Amber Nicole Brooks, too, supplies questions for others to consider when investigating the rhetorical contexts of gendered medical treatment in the late nineteenth century and when engaging the broader field of feminist rhetorical studies of health and medicine.
While many of the items that follow invite readers to reconsider the materials on which we focus our inquiries and to recover texts and objects that have been effaced through traditional approaches to the study of rhetoric, other contributors ask readers to reexamine our research, writing, and mentoring practices. Cheyenne Franklin calls attention to the overlooked and under-studied rhetorical tradition of letter-keeping among women and directs us to search for primary sources in unlikely sites, and even in hidden compartments. Janine Morris, Hannah J. Rule, and Christina M. LaVecchia use their experiences with writing groups to ask readers to consider how feminist writing groups might thoughtfully and powerfully blend professionalization and mentoring. Lastly, Liz Lane, Lori Beth De Hertogh, and Jessica Ouellette capitalize on the digital nature of Peitho by providing a venue for Peitho readers to collaboratively re-see our scholarly conversations through feminist mappings of the sources we cite (and thus amplify) through our publication choices.
The contributions in this issue are generative and the contributors generous in sharing them. Contributors also, as a group, reflect a related foundational goal of “Recoveries and Reconsiderations”: to welcome and empower more people to participate in Peitho, and, thus, to further the mission of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition (CFSHRC). The CFSHRC mission stipulates that the organization and its affiliated publication should promote “the advancement of feminist research and pedagogy across histories, locales, identities, materialities, and media,” and “the education and mentoring of feminist faculty and graduate students in scholarship, research methods, praxis, and the politics of the profession” (“About the Coalition”). To accomplish these ends, “Recoveries and Reconsiderations” is structured to accommodate a wide variety of the institutional and personal contexts that feminist researchers, teachers, and scholars inhabit. As the call for submissions explains,
With “Recoveries and Reconsiderations,” we wish to provide a space for more voices to enter our scholarly conversations. Contributions need not require the extensive time commitments of full-length articles and, thus, may be amenable to the working situations of many feminists in the field. (“NEW Peitho Feature”)
Efforts to enable further participation are reflected in the length parameters for contributions to the section. Traditional articles in Peitho run 6,000-8,000 words, while “Recoveries and Reconsiderations” articles are typically less than half that word count (“NEW Peitho Feature”). The items appearing in this issue, along with the large number of submissions received in response to our first call for submissions, suggest that this shorter format is valuable to many feminist scholars. And while no single offering can capture the full array of locations from and within which scholarship emerges for feminist rhetoricians, contributors to this first “Recoveries and Reconsiderations” section come from an impressive variety of institutions. Also notable, most of these contributors are assistant professors or graduate students. Given that each of the thirty submissions received was peer reviewed by two scholars in the process of selecting the items that follow, the format of the section appears to be amenable to both rigor and broad participation.
In keeping with the forward-looking spirit of “Recoveries and Reconsiderations,” I close with an invitation for you to submit your work and, in this way, expand participation even further. Peitho welcomes your descriptions of and observations about materials, sites, and methods of feminist research and practice in our field. The seven items that follow provide an excellent sampling of approaches that contributors might take in future installments, and there are many other areas for generative inquiry and conversation, including feminist digital and multimodal rhetorics, feminist pedagogy, feminist administration, and intersectional rhetorical feminism, to name but a few. For more information about submitting your work to “Recoveries and Reconsiderations,” head to our website at https://cfshrc.org/about-peitho/#submissions.
- “About the Coalition.” Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, https://cfshrc.org/about-us/. Accessed 24 May 2020.
- “NEW Peitho Feature: Recoveries and Reconsiderations.” Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, https://cfshrc.org/new-peitho-feature-recoveries-and-reconsiderations/. Accessed 24 May 2020.
- Royster, Jacqueline Jones and Gesa Kirsch. Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies. Southern Illinois UP, 2012.