Feminisms & Rhetorics Conference 2021 and 2023 Updates

Dear Friends of the Coalition,

In light of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the time at which larger gatherings may again be possible, and in respect for already ongoing conversations regarding future directions for the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, the CFSHRC Advisory Board, at our meeting late last month, made the decision not to hold a Feminisms and Rhetorics conference in 2021. At the same meeting, the Board agreed to form a task force to explore ways that we might support Coalition members and friends via alternative interactions to help fill in the “conference gap.” Please stay tuned for future engagement opportunities!

As you may be aware, the Coalition sponsors two awards—the Nan Johnson Outstanding Graduate Student Travel Award and the Shirley Wilson Logan Diversity Scholarship Award—that support attendees and presenters at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference. We are looking into alternative possibilities for implementing these awards for the 2021 cycle.

In addition, we encourage Coalition members to apply for two awards that we would have announced at the 2021 FemRhet conference: the Presidents Dissertation Award and the Lisa Ede Mentoring Award. Winners of these awards for 2021 will be announced via alternative channels. More details about each of these awards, along with information about how to apply, can be found here: https://cfshrc.org/awards/.

Lastly, the Advisory Board decided to temporarily suspend the submission process for site host applications for the Feminisms and Rhetorics 2023 conference. Although the unknowns with regard to meeting regulations, travel, and the like are still many, we hope to reopen the call for hosts by no later than September 15, 2020. In the meantime, if you have questions regarding conference hosting, either in advance of submitting a proposal or otherwise, please reach out to Wendy Sharer, CFSHRC President, at president@cfshrc.org. You are also welcome to view our recently updated conference-hosting FAQs at https://cfshrc.org/femrhet-conference-call-for-hosts/.

Be safe and stay well,

Wendy Sharer, President

Stepping Into the Unknown Together

Greetings, Friends.

I step into the role of Coalition President with immense gratitude to our Immediate Past President, Tarez Graban. Her tireless work has created a firm foundation upon which I now have the pleasure of building. Furthermore, her help as I figure out the position has been invaluable. Thank you, Tarez!

I also want to send a shout out to the other brilliant and dedicated members of the 2020-2022 Executive Board: Jessica Enoch, Vice President; Jane Greer, Treasurer; Cristy Beemer, Secretary; and Mudiwa Pettus, Member-at-Large. What a luxury to have such great people around me!

At the same time, I am, like most of us, filled with uncertainty as we face the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. What I do know for certain, though, is that the encouragement and ingenuity of feminist colleagues and friends are essential to get us through these times. To that end, I look forward to working with the incredible people on the Executive and Advisory Boards to provide encouragement and spread the benefits of ingenuity widely to Coalition members and friends. The Coalition has sustained me through many difficult times since I joined as a graduate student back in the late 1990s, and I hope to contribute to efforts that will sustain and elevate others over the next two years and beyond.

Even before the COVID outbreak we, as an organization, were working hard to address challenges and cultivate opportunities, including how to make our scholarly venues more welcoming for more contributors and how to mentor and support the many diverse scholars entering and enriching the field. As President, my intent is to continue and expand these efforts, but I will need your help. I know I will fail at some things, and I will do my best to learn from those failures. I am committed to using my privilege to confront the conditions that create and sustain it.

Over the next few weeks, you will receive announcements and updates about various Coalition-related initiatives via our mailing list, website, and social media outlets (many thanks to our out-going Director of Digital Media and Outreach, Patricia Fancher, and our in-coming DDMO, Sweta Baniya!). I welcome your reactions, thoughts, and suggestions on any of these matters. Please feel free to email me at President@cfshrc.org.

Wishing you peace and strength,

Wendy Sharer

President, 2020-2022

 

 

Passing the Baton: Caring for One Another in An Altered Reality

Dear Coalition Friends,

Growing up, my siblings and I heard three consistent messages from our parents: “Make your way in the world by asking as little of it as possible,” “Do the most good for the most people along the way,” and “When you arrive, ask what you could do better.” To my parents’ credit, these were the messages that got them where they are today, my Mom having migrated with her family via railroad to the West Coast as a child, and my Dad having spent 15 years in refugee housing and political displacement, before finally making his way to the U.S. from contested Palestine as a young adult. I’m intensely proud of my parents for these reasons and more — for surviving and thriving and establishing such meaningful legacies. In turn, at various of my own junctures or “arrivals”, I’ve tried to take stock, often in painfully reflective ways: “How have I done? What have I managed? Where have I failed?”

Notice my affinity with failure. Those who know me well, know I can spend hours discussing my failures. And while this post — the Coalition President’s outgoing message — should be a reflective occasion to ruminate on success, I cannot in good faith consider any presidential accomplishments as mine. They are ours.

So, how did we get here (April 15, 2020) so quickly, and how do I account for all that has transpired in the past 24 months  — even in the past month, as the ground has shifted beneath us in the wake of COVID-19 and subsequently altered our realities? I can’t account for all of that in the space of a single post, but I can — with equal measures of gratitude and pride — outline some of the Coalition’s accomplishments, pointing particularly to the efforts of a tremendous Executive Board and Advisory Board, of Peitho journal’s tireless editorial team, of Patricia Fancher and Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne (our inaugural colleagues in two new and vital outreach roles), of Casey Miles (our web coordinator from 2017-2019), and of our many dedicated task forces and volunteer groups.

As an organization, we have much to celebrate: not least a new web presence and the migration of Peitho to a digitally native publication; the creation of two new awards to equip our colleagues across all ranks and from underrepresented groups to do the work that they love, as well as an impressive and expansive slate of award winners; the revision of fiscal and actual policies to support FemRhet conference hosts, and to give more outwardly and charitably to affiliate organizations in various stages of growth; the establishment of an active, thoughtful social media presence; and the nurturing of an exceptional volunteer base on social media and in person.

We have piloted a virtual manuscript mentoring program, celebrated the Coalition’s 30th anniversary, begun writing our own histories, and planned — then cancelled — what would have been a visionary session on “Connecting Coalitions, Arts, and Pedagogies of Human Rights” at 4C 2020. We may even be featured in an upcoming episode of Charles Woods’ The Big Rhetorical Podcast.

We have also developed new and more ways and forms of supporting one another in doing the Coalition’s work, revised our Bylaws, created documentation to better assist ad-hoc volunteers in taking on projects, stood in solidarity with sister organizations and allied groups, offered financial support for conference meet-ups and other collaborations, and  tried to ensure that our public meetings act simultaneously as tributes to long-time members and past leaders and occasions for welcoming newer members and future leaders. (This becomes increasingly important as we experience generational shifts and anticipate retirements, but this year, especially, we have mourned the passing of two dear colleagues and one past president: Nan Johnson on 8/31/19 and Joyce Irene Middleton on 4/13/20.)

For their work between 2018-2020 on adjudicating existing awards and articulating new ones, revising or articulating policies and guidelines, planning meetups, mentoring at conferences or online, working towards more nuanced graduate student outreach, assisting with Coalition 4C events, and hosting FemRhet 2019, I would also like to acknowledge the following stellar volunteers from our membership: Jen Almjeld, Erin Andersen, Sweta Baniya, Alicia Brazeau, Amanda Brooks, Alexandra Cavallaro, Sherri Craig, Jane Donawerth, Rebecca Dingo, Julianna Edmonds, Mary Fratini, Katherine Fredlund, Cory Geraths, Michelle Grue, Denise Landrum Geyer, Evan Groundwater, Holly Hassel, Gavin Johnson, Rachelle Joplin, Tammie Kennedy, Stephanie Larson, Amy Lueck, Andrea Lunsford, Liane Malinowski, Katie Manthey, Londi Martin, Alexis McGee, Caitlyn McKay, Lydia McDermott, Janine Morris, Sarah Mosely, Kate Navickas, Kate Pantelides, Paula Patch, Dara Regaignon, Becky Rickley, Mary Sheridan, Rebekah Sims, Carolyn Skinner, Patrick Thomas, Erin Wecker, Patty Wilde, and Traci Zimmerman. Without them, none of this would be possible. [Please, if I have forgotten to name you here, e-mail me!]

Absent from this post, of course, are the “failed” initiatives — “failed” in that they are still pressing, still urgent, and still not complete — including our relationship with and plans for future Feminisms and Rhetorics conferences, and our attempts to meet the life needs of a growing membership, not only during the present moment of school closures and social distancing, but also into our new “normal.” Absent are the ongoing labors that come with being a public-facing organization in a moment of such marked shifts in disciplinary ethos, and the challenges of being an organization that is so visibly engendered. Some of these labors have led to stalemate or postponement because the timing wasn’t right, and others have had a profound influence on the way we do business, but are as yet unrealized in concrete outcomes.

There is no easy way to quantify the labors that constitute these less-visible engagements, these “non-arrivals” in one sense, but without them we’d have no way of ensuring our own growth. I am grateful for some of these unrealized aspirations inasmuch as they reflect a deep-seated commitment to doing and to caring. They demonstrate that the Coalition is comprised of many complementary “we’s” moreso than it is representative of a single unified “we.” Caring for one another can be difficult work, and yet I hope we have done it well and are on the path toward doing it better.

Finally, I’m grateful for the labors of the incoming Executive and Advisory Boards, and genuinely excited for their envisioning under the tutelage of Wendy Sharer, our wildly capable yet characteristically humble Incoming President, who has ambitious and important plans. Please join me in welcoming Wendy and this incredible slate of new colleagues.

In service,
Tarez Graban
Outgoing President 2018-2020

#thefeministsareinplace … but plans are still moving forward

Coalition Friends,

Carving out a shared moment from pressing institutional demands, family crises, juggled responsibilities, and compulsory homeschooling, members of The Advisory and Executive Boards met virtually as scheduled on March 25 to address a full and timely meeting agenda. Some of us were still reeling from the slew of cancellations announced the week prior. Some of us were caring for relatives who are ill. Some of us were still navigating conflicting and uncertain missives from our local or state governments about how to conduct ourselves and our lives on a day-to-day basis. But most of us were glad for the opportunity to “see” one another, and to think and talk focusedly about concerns that are still pressing in the midst of our altered realities.

Uncertainties aside, I’m excited for the good that is ahead. We discussed and voted on several initiatives, moved some to the back burner and promoted others to the front. We began preparations for a new and incoming leadership team. We made some decisions about the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference. We established our priorities for programs and campaigns that we know our students and colleagues need, and some need fairly urgently. Most importantly, we considered how, when, where, and how quickly we should act on those initiatives with an ethic of care, and how to do this as transparently as possible. Please watch for additional posts in the days and weeks that follow, with relevant announcements and profiles of our incoming leadership team, and know that we’re rolling things out as quickly as we can, but thoughtfully. Distinctive of the Coalition is our marked interest in communicating openly and honestly about what we want to do, what we need to do, and what we can do.

As with anything we do, this upcoming slate of needs and desires requires more labor than our small group of leaders can reasonably take on, and because we take you and your burdens very seriously and very much to heart, we’ll soon be putting out our regular calls for your help and your involvement. When you see those calls circulate, I hope you’ll recognize that they are calling for you, and that you’ll feel both enabled and compelled to respond.

With gratitude for your engagement,
-Tarez Graban
CFSHRC President 2018-2020

p.s. – If you haven’t already, come browse our new site; check out awards and other initiatives, Peitho journal, and let us know what else you’d like to see.

In a time of movement …

… The Coalition has moved. In the midst of much surreality and uncertainty — and while we are contending with tripled workloads, juggled family obligations, frenetic updates and missives from our workplaces and schools, and the residual effects of hoarding (rather than helping) behavior — all of the Executive officers and Advisory Board members wish you good health, good discernment, peace, and safety. We’re continuing our work, but with cautious optimism and daily adjustments.

For now, allow me to announce the unveiling of three projects long in the works:

(1) Our new and permanent web location is live, here, at https://cfshrc.org. The old site (http://cwshrc.org) may remain online awhile longer but will be archived with no new activity after today. Our new web space has been designed by and will be maintained by the resourceful and insightful Academic Web Pages. AWP is woman-founded and -owned, and specializes in developing habitable and usable web spaces for academic organizations and small affiliates like ours. They have been patient, thoughtful, thorough, and responsive to our and our members’ needs and, as a result, have created a beautiful space for hosting the activities of the Coalition, Peitho, and Feminisms and Rhetorics. While we did not expect to be announcing this in the wake of COVID-19, please join us in celebrating and browsing the new site!

(2) With the new site will come a new and functioning mailing list. The current mailing list (coalition@cwshrc.org) will no longer be maintained. If you were subscribed to that list, we have automatically subscribed you to a new mailing list which we’ll be activating soon. Please watch for an announcement or two from a new list address. For the time being, if you have announcements you’d like to post or disseminate, please send them to admin@cfshrc.org and we’ll post on your behalf. And thank you for your patience as we get the new mailing mechanism established. (We’re working as quickly as we can in the midst of many other uncertainties.)

(3) The Feminisms and Rhetorics 2019 Conference Team has just published a stunning digital archive of the conference, which they and we invite you to visit at https://femrhetarchive19.wixsite.com/femrhet2019 (linked, also, from the FemRhet 2019 conference page). This was a JMU student project aimed to capture and embody all aspects of the conference in a generative and dynamic way. Please do visit and browse its features!

Finally, please also watch for a series of posts here between now and April 15, reporting on results of our annual Board meeting, recipients of this year’s scholarships and awards, plans to continue our online mentoring program, introduction of new Exec officers and AB members, followup from CCCC 2020, and announcements about FemRhet 2021, FemRhet 2023 and membership renewal for those members on an April to March cycle. Admittedly, some of this business now seems mundane while other business seems arduous, yet we know it is all necessary, and we thank you for bearing with us.

cum grato erga,
Tarez Graban (for the Board)
CFSHRC President 2018-2020

#IWD2020

Twenty years ago this May, I shook Gloria Steinem’s hand. She was the commencement keynote speaker at a small college where I was interim writing center director at the time. Steinem opened her keynote with the admission that she was “a self-proclaimed commencement junkie,” and she proved it afterwards by leading the recessional then standing in line to shake hands with everyone in attendance — not only students and faculty, but also family members and guests. I had only a moment in which to express my thanks before the momentum of the line nudged me forward, but it felt rewarding to tell Steinem in person how much her long career in journalism, activism, human rights, and education had made it possible for me to be doing what I was doing, and still am doing today. My list of women to admire has since grown — women whose work has made a profound and concrete difference in how I view the world and how I access it — but the list always includes Steinem for her intellectual curiosity and personal generosity. On International Women’s Day, to whom will you pay tribute?

Event: Connecting Coalitions, Arts, and Pedagogies of Human Rights at #4C20

Please join the Coalition for our annual SIG event before CCCC’s! Wednesday, March 25, 2020, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Crystal Ballroom, Wisconsin Center

Keynote by Dr. Alexandra Hidalgo

This year’s two-part session will focus on making critical connections between filmic and other arts and the various kinds of teaching and activism we strive for in the contemporary classroom. The first part of the session features a keynote presentation by Dr. Alexandra Hidalgo: “Art in the Times of Chaos: Creative Collaborations Between Venezuelan Women Across Continents” with lecture, film clips, and traditional Q&A.

In this presentation, Alexandra Hidalgo will use film scenes and crew interviews in order to discuss not only her in-production feature documentary The Weeping Season, but also the cross-continental collaborative process she used in order to make the film. The Weeping Season is a first-person documentary in which the filmmaker investigates the mystery of her father’s 1983 disappearance in the Venezuelan Amazon. Hidalgo began filming this documentary in Venezuela in 2004. Since then, she has filmed in the United States, Portugal, and Spain. She was last able to film in Venezuela in 2016. However, her Venezuelan passport expired and due to the current political crisis in her homeland, she has been unable to renew it. In order to complete the film, she is collaborating with Venezuelan producer Natalia Machado and a group of local filmmakers, with whom she communicates through Skype and WhatsApp, in order to direct their filming. She is also working with Cristina Carrasco, a Venezuelan editor who lives in Argentina and Spain, and with whom she collaborates through Skype, Google docs, and WhatsApp to craft the story together.

Hidalgo holding a camera and young child.

As cofounder of the online publication agnès films and author of Cámara Retórica, Hidalgo has spent several years articulating a feminist filmmaking methodology for rhetoric and composition. As such, the making of the film itself mirrors the documentary’s themes of loss and crisis. There are the personal and national losses that occur through the filmmaker’s storyline, and there is the collaboration that occurs among three Venezuelan women who must find ways to work across borders given the country’s current crisis. The presentation will both demonstrate and argue for how Hidalgo, Carrasco, and Machado come together through digital technologies and apps in order to co-create a memorable piece of art in a unique enactment of the Venezuelan diaspora. Over three million Venezuelans have escaped their homeland’s crisis since the middle 2000s and the collaborative work on this film offers one model for remaining close to each other in spite of being geographically spread.

Mentoring Tables

The second part of our session will feature one hour of semi-structured mentoring tables on topics ranging from contingent labor to globalizing feminist historical work to developing new research methodologies to finding or maintaining a work-life balance, among other topics.

Continuing the Conversation through Lateral Mentoring and Sustained Collaboration

While our mentoring tables typically offer graduate students and junior scholars the opportunity to learn from senior colleagues in the field on various topics, several of this year’s mentoring tables will be co-hosted by affiliated group and/or organization leaders, with the goal of leading discussion about how to make knowledge from—or how to take rhetorical action on—the topics reflected in Hidalgo’s keynote presentation. Please stay for the mentoring tables and engage with any of the following topics:

  • Table 1: CCCC Latinx Member Caucus, with Christina V. Cedillo & Cruz Medina
  • Table 2: CCCC Transnational Composition SIG, with Thomas LaVelle & Ligia Mihut
  • Table 3: Feminist Rhetorics of Written Argument, with Kathleen E. Welch
  • Table 4: Giving and Receiving Reader Feedback, with Risa Applegarth & David Gold
  • Table 5: Globalizing Feminist Historical Study, with Karrieann Soto Vega & Bo Wang
  • Table 6: Graduate School and the Job Market, with Hui Wu
  • Table 7: History and Historical Methodologies, with Suzanne Bordelon
  • Table 8: Preparing for Publishing, with Lynee Lewis Gaillet
  • Table 9: Strategies for Research and Writing, with Jessica Enoch and Charlotte Hogg
  • Table 10: Writing about Community Writing, with Jenn Fishman & Sarah Moon

“Moving” Days

January through April, in an even year, mark “moving” days for the Coalition, in more ways than one. But this year began with a unique kind of movement: Peitho journal’s moving to a fully online format. If you haven’t already, please do check out Issue 22.1 (Fall/Winter 2019). Jen Wingard, Jen England, and Peitho‘s editorial team worked diligently to put out this beautiful issue, in and around constraints caused by our decision to redesign the Coalition website.

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Don’t Slow Down

You might believe, and still you feel
The chase has just begun
That you must reach that horizon before
The setting of the sun.
You chase the light in front of you
Nightfall close behind
If you stop to catch your breath
You know what you will find.


Don’t slow down, don’t touch the ground
You know what you will find
That old grey man in tattered clothes
Following behind.

–“Don’t Slow Down,” UB40 (1981)

In any given year in the life of an organization like ours — in scope, size, membership, and vision — we expect long seasons of steady activity, punctuated with brief periods of frenetic activity. We are trending differently as of late, and anymore the activity is constant, vacillating between steady and frenetic sometimes within a week. This autumn/fall season has brought us many such weeks.

More often, the activity is positive and centered around productive occasions, and I am pleased to share the early details of one such occasion: the Coalition-sponsored session on Wednesday evening, March 25 (2020) in Milwaukee. This year’s session is focused on “Connecting Coalitions, Arts, and Pedagogies of Human Rights,” and will feature a keynote presentation by Alexandra Hidalgo, cofounder of the online publication agnès films and author of Cámara Retórica. Hidalgo will use film scenes and crew interviews in order to discuss not only her in-production feature documentary The Weeping Season, but also the cross-continental collaborative process she used in order to make the film. The Weeping Season is a first-person documentary in which she investigates the mystery of her father’s 1983 disappearance in the Venezuelan Amazon. In order to complete the film, Hidalgo is collaborating with Venezuelan producer Natalia Machado and a group of local filmmakers, as well as Cristina Carrasco, a Venezuelan editor who lives in Argentina and Spain. There are the personal and national losses that occur through the filmmaker’s storyline, and there is the collaboration that occurs among three Venezuelan women who must find ways to work across borders given the country’s current crisis. As such, the making of the film itself mirrors the documentary’s themes of loss and crisis.

Often enough, however, the activity is centered around loss and loss alone. Several Advisory Board and Coalition members have lost colleagues, lost children, lost loved ones, or are seeing the above through their own losses, or through treatment for aggressive or terminal illnesses, weighing the gravity of unfair against fair, and doing the best that we can do to keep up the pace. Inasmuch as our organization is a collective of many engaged “we’s”, few of us are any steps removed from a difficult experience, and when these difficulties compound the other complications in our lives, a figurative nightfall seems close behind indeed. In weeks and seasons like these, may we look for daylight and find it. For Coalition leadership, it is difficult to imagine a Feminisms and Rhetorics conference without Nan Johnson, but the hopeful reality is that Nan’s steadfastness already prevails in the actions of her graduate students, colleagues, and friends at Ohio State, and that we’ll experience some of those moments together next month.

Admittedly, it isn’t always clear whether we catalyze the activity or it drives us. It’s possible that our organization makes as much business as (or more than) it demands. What becomes increasingly clear is how much heart organizational work requires in these seasons when our first reasonable response may be to disengage or just lie down, knowing that nothing around us will slow down. I reiterate my thanks to the many individuals and groups who are, with heart as well as mind, doing organizational work — preparing these conferences, preparing for these conferences, and preparing the way for these conferences, in many avenues and spaces.

With best wishes for a sane November,
Tarez Samra Graban
CFSHRC President

Don’t Slow Down

You might believe, and still you feel The chase has just begun That you must reach that horizon before The setting of the sun. You chase the light in front of you Nightfall close behind If you stop to catch your breath You know what you will find.

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