The Gift of Feminist Mentoring

The Gift of Feminist Mentoring

Peitho Volume 24, Issue 24 Fall

Author(s): Rachel Daugherty

Dr. Rachel Daugherty is Assistant Director of First-Year Composition and a Senior Lecturer at Texas Woman’s University, where she teaches courses in writing, research methods, and technical communication. Her research focuses on coalition-building practices in activist and educational contexts, as well as feminist pedagogy and writing program administration. Her essays have appeared in Peitho; Innovative Higher Education; and Reinventing Rhetoric Scholarship. Her book project, Resisting Shared Threats: Activist Archives in the Women’s March on Washington, examines digital archives of the 2017 Women’s March and reveals how intersectional feminist activists build coalitions by constructing archives to positively frame coalitional memory. 

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Lisa Ede was my first feminist mentor. I say that now knowing what feminist mentoring is because of her. At the time, I didn’t know what feminist mentoring meant. What I did know is that Lisa cared. Lisa wanted her students to succeed and supported them in every way she could. I will always be in her debt for the great gift of feminist mentoring she gave me and so many others. 

Lisa was the first person to introduce me to writing centers. I started working at the Oregon State University Writing Center before I ever knew I wanted to study rhetoric and composition, but I quickly learned that writing center pedagogy would fundamentally shift my understanding of teaching and writing. Back then, I had no idea who Lisa Ede was to rhetoric and composition as a field. To me and the other tutors worked with her, Lisa was a calm mentor with seemingly endless resources and support for our questions. Even though Lisa was such a well-known scholar, she never flaunted any acclaim she had received and instead always wanted to know about our interests. For me, this is the epitome of Lisa’s feminist mentoring: decentering herself and lifting those around her. 

After taking multiple classes with her and expressing uncertainty about studying literature, Lisa asked me if I’d considered studying Rhetoric and Composition. Lisa introduced me to the study of writing and rhetoric through feminism, which sparked a passion in in me that now drives my work. She wrote my first grad school recommendation letter and encouraged me to pursue the PhD. That was the start of what is now my career. My whole life changed because of that conversation, and I can never thank her enough.  

Because of Lisa, I pursued writing research and feminist pedagogy in my MA, which led me to my first CCCC. I remember running into Lisa on Wednesday night of the conference, where she greeted me with her characteristic big smile and hug. Lisa invited me into the meeting she was attending, which happened to be the Coalition of Women (now Feminist) Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. Once again, I owe Lisa a great debt for this invitation. Little did I know that this organization would become my scholarly community, for which I am grateful Lisa’s memory will continue to be honored through the mentoring award.  

Lisa was an unassuming intellectual powerhouse. Her work on collaborative writing and feminist pedagogy continue to shape my approaches to teaching, mentoring, and scholarship. I’ll always cherish our conversations about feminism, writing pedagogy, and Oregon gardening. Thank you for everything, Lisa.