Editors’ Introduction

It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world and left no community untouched. As we are sure our readers are all aware, we are reminded each day that this pandemic lingers. Just this past month, COVID deaths in the US reached over one million and staggering rates of inflation continue to impact the world’s most vulnerable, making it even more difficult to make ends meet. More locally, as Peitho’s editors, we have seen how the pandemic has deeply affected our journal as well. It often takes a good two years to develop a cogent argument supported with research and theory, to draft, seek feedback, and rewrite and a year or more to have a manuscript reviewed and to revise. We also know that, although not all feminist scholars identify as women, that women across the globe have carried the weight and have been some of the most affected by the pandemic. Due to the timetable of scholarly publication, we’re concerned that we will continue to see the effects of the pandemic on women’s scholarship for another year or more to come. We also know that queer, non-binary, and trans scholars as well as scholars of color have had to live through the pandemic alongside continued violence against them and their communities. Likewise, as Peitho Winter 2022 author Jessica McCaughey detailed in her essay on how the pandemic impacted graduate student writing production, due to increased responsibilities at home and outside the home in the form of various sorts of care work, women have not been able to complete the amount of work that they had been able to pre-pandemic.  And sadly, our journal has felt the effect of these events in the form of a low number of submissions. As a result, this issue is a bit shorter than the past issues. We have no articles to offer. However, we are proud to publish a small set of robust Recoveries and Reconsiderations and book reviews.  

We want to point out that we hope that our readers are moved —and supported— to write and publish soon. There is so much for us as feminists to write for and against: 

  • The recently leaked Supreme Court memo that would effectively end Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion demonstrates how feminist intervention is direly needed. Access to abortion, safe birth control, and safe birthing practices and technologies are all socially and racially just practices, and striking down Roe v. Wade may compromise all these things. Communities of color have already been the most impacted by abortion restrictions.  
  • The nomination and confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court is a long overdue event in United States history. We chose a photograph of her for the cover of this issue to laud her as a superlatively accomplished jurist and to insist on more recognition for more Black women. 
  • Men with guns have committed mass shootings with horrifying frequency: 14 May 2022 – a man murdered ten people in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. 15 May 2022 – a man murdered one and injured five others at a church in Laguna Woods, CA. 24 May 2022 – a man murdered 21 people, nineteen of them children, at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. 1 June 2022 – a man murdered four people and then took his own life at a medical building in Tulsa, OK. Gun policy and mental health, like everything else, are feminist issues.  
  • In the Gulf South and east coast, hurricane season 2022 has just begun, and on the west coast, wildfire season has just begun. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are facing deadly heat waves. Residents are simultaneously dealing with the real trauma of climate disasters from the last several years and dreading what will come next. Climate crisis is a global, feminist issue. 

As scholars of rhetorics and feminisms, we may decide to do research and writing about abortion rights, Justice Jackson (and the racialized sexism she endured during her confirmation hearings), mass shootings, or climate disasters. Even if we study other topics, however, this news is still happening around us as we research and write, and that matters. It’s important to us as editors to acknowledge this. Current events are part of the material conditions of writing, as well as of teaching and learning, just as personal, health, and family situations are. 

The authors who contributed to the Spring 2022 issue have worked during this turmoil, and we are proud to present their articles. “Selvedge Rhetorics and Material Memory” by Jennifer Clary-Lemon is a surprising look at how much history and narrative is embedded in the smallest objects, in this case selvedges, which are the edges of bolts of fabric, which have information about the design and the company that made the fabric. Those who have worked with wallpaper may know that selvedges appear on some wallpaper rolls as well:  

Figure 1. Detail of wallpaper selvedge from a roll of wallpaper from Clancy Ratliff’s childhood home. Image description: a print that resembles a woven basket in shades of beige, light tan, dark tan, and black. Below the print is a beige space. On the left side, in capital black letters, is the word TRIM. On the right side is a bar of color in the light tan shade, as well as three squares side by side. The left square is in the light tan shade with a beige number 1 in the center. The middle square is the dark tan shade with a beige number 2 in the center. The right square is black with a beige number 3 in the center.

Using a fabric selvedge as a point of entry and rhetorical accretion as a methodological guide, Clary-Lemon reveals a feminist historical narrative about the textile industry and its abuse of women and children. Her article helps to open a space for studying fabric archives.  

Asmita Ghimire’s article “Yogmaya Neupane: The Unknown Rhetorician and the Known Rebel” shares the story of Yogmaya, a feminist activist in Nepal during the early 1900s. When women in England and the US were pushing for the right to vote, Yogmaya and her coalition, Nari Samiti, were fighting on behalf of women and girls in Nepal, to end discrimination and abuses including Sati, the immolation of widows after their husbands’ deaths. Ghimire interweaves personal narrative, research, and conversation with a senior scholar, Barbara Nimri Aziz, the primary scholarly authority on Yogmaya to reconsider Yogmaya as a rhetorician as well as a feminist activist.    

Rachel Molko’s article “SCUM Manifesto as a Rhetoric of Domination” analyzes Valerie Solanas’s rhetoric as feminine rage. In 2022 (and for many years prior) we don’t take Solanas seriously as a feminist writer, but Molko reconsiders SCUM Manifesto using Ahmed’s idea of a “feminist snap” and analyzing it as an expression of rage. While it attempts to make an earnest argument about patriarchy and gender, it fails to do so and instead replicates domination, that of women over men. Molko uses her careful reading of Solanas to reflect thoughtfully about feminist accountability. She offers those familiar with SCUM Manifesto a new take on it, and others an opportunity to encounter it for the first time.  

Our book reviews provide a preview of two very important books about severe traumas. The first is Erin Green and Jessica Enoch’s review of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles, a monograph about one family heirloom that demonstrates much about history, race, research, archives, and more. Rachel Smith Olson reviews What It Feels Like: Visceral Rhetoric and the Politics of Rape by Stephanie R. Larson, an exhaustive analysis of rape culture in recent years in both public discourse and legal contexts.

Editor’s Introduction

This Winter issue of Peitho arrives on the heels of the death of the beloved and deeply influential Black feminist writer/scholar/teacher/activist bell hooks, for whom we offer a memorial. It also comes out as the US (at least) begins to enter what is hopefully the endemic stage of COVID and some light at the end of the tunnel after two very dark years for many of us. But this issue also comes at the beginning of what looks like a possible reinvigoration of the Cold War as the world watches Russia invade Ukraine.  

As I think about the legacy of hooks I am inspired to make connections between the rhetorics of racial capitalism, gender, and conflict and I encourage Peitho readers and writers to do the same.  As I scroll through social media and listen to the news, I am reminded of how raced and gendered rhetorics of the Cold War persist into the present and how they have produced particular sorts of sentimentalities about the tensions between capitalism and communism, as well as who is worthy of protection and who is discounted. I was moved by postcolonial rhetoric and composition scholar, Priya Sirohi’s recent post on her Facebook page when she described the uneasiness, I was feeling but couldn’t put into words.  She states “It’s easy to love Ukraine because as far as the international imagination knows, they are a peaceful country bullied by a bigger and meaner one, with a former comedian as the President. It’s very easy to hate Russia because we have long hated Russia for its bullying and killing of spies and terrible dictator. These stories are part of the Western imaginary.”  Importantly, Sirohi’s post goes on to recognize that, while the world has and should rally around Ukraine, there has been little notice of a similar conflict between India and Kashmir.  She sees the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and India and Kasmir as connected: 

the populist nationalism and long-standing Cold War era tensions make the two invasions the same. Russia wants a buffer with its enemies in Europe. India wanted to wrest control of Kashmir from Pakistan. The arguments about cultural hegemony are the same in both. The difference is that India and Kashmir are not predominantly white nations, and therefore their problems aren’t considered close to the hearts of people in the West. It’s not easy for Western media and politics to love nations with brown or black people in them because their problems are presented through thinly veiled racism as problems of the ‘third world’; Ukraine is European in the global imagination, and therefore its invasion feels shocking – it’s not the behavior of ‘civilized’ nations in the West. 

Sirohi’s observations and connections between nation-state powers, race, colonial histories, and global politics resonate strongly with the political and feminist project that hooks forwarded and lived. hooks’ legacy is demonstrating how structures of racism, capitalism, and gender work in tandem to reproduce and perpetuate dominant class structures, not only in the US but also globally. 

I first read hooks as an undergraduate student where I quickly learned through her work that Black people in the US were subjected to colonialism and that that those historical wounds still persist today. Her book Teaching to Transgress served as the only textbook of the required Feminist Pedagogy class I took while earning my MA in Women’s and Gender Studies. From hooks, I learned how to curate creative spaces for all learners in my classes while working to attend to the persistent wounds of racism, capitalism, and patriarchy present on the students in my class and in their worldview. 

We, the Editorial Team of Peitho, open this issue with a set of reflections on hooks’ legacy from scholars and activists situated not only around the world, but who also live/d and learn/ed in the very region of the US that hooks lived and grew up in.  We are struck by how many contributors to her memorial were moved and influenced by hooks’ owning her background as a poor Black Appalachian woman and seeing it as a source of strength, activism, and inspiration. As our collection of reflections show, hooks’ observations and feminist commitments transcend the globe and writers demonstrate important connections between legacies of oppressions, for example, present in Hyderabad, India and rural northern Georgia, US, not to mention within our own field of rhetorical studies.  

hooks’ legacy and commitment to understanding how different forms of oppression are interconnected, frames the potpourri of feminist rhetorical scholarship this issue of Peitho offers. In addition to several reflections on the legacy of bell hooks, Jessica McCaughey presents data on how the pandemic impacted graduate student writing, Sarah Dwyer considers the how university diversity statements serve as “straightening devices” for queer bodies, and C.C. Hendricks demonstrates how beat poet and activist Diane di Prima demonstrates feminist rhetorical practices that until now have been ignored.  Taken together, these essays demonstrate how feminist rhetorical theory can offer a vision of change, whether it is in how our institutions can write more inclusive diversity statements, how they might better support vulnerable graduate students, or even how understanding past writer-activist figures can help us imagine new and more just worlds. Peitho encourages more contributions that follow political and activist commitments as they live on in hooks’ and other feminists of colors’ thinking and continued legacies in particular, by expanding our notions of identity and locality in order to fully contextualize them in transnational patterns of injustice as the Ukraine example, Sirohi’s statement, and hooks attunement to locality within oppressive systems show. 

Work Cited

Sirohi, Priya. Post about Ukraine, Russia, India, and Kashmir. 27 February 2022, 11:53AM, https://www.facebook.com/priya.sirohi. Accessed 27 February 2022. 

Editors’ Introduction

We are so excited to be launching the first issue of Peitho as a new editorial team! We, co-editors Rebecca Dingo (overseeing articles), Clancy Ratliff (overseeing Recoveries and Reconsiderations), and Temptaous McKoy (overseeing the book reviews) along with our stellar team of assistants Ashley Canter, Stacy Earp, and Stacie Klinowski, and our web coordinator Kelli Lycke, we’ve been working together to curate this issue since this summer and to continue the most excellent work of out-going editor, Jen Wingard and her assistant, Rachelle Joplin. We thank Jen and Rachelle for taking the time to on-board our new team and to pass on to us a well-organized journal with cuttingedge feminist scholarship. Amid our enthusiasm for this issue, we also mourn the passing of Lisa Ede, who died on September 29, 2021, and we take the work of memorializing her very seriously. The pieces in this issue are thoughtful, heartfelt reflections on Ede’s legacy as a scholar, mentor, and teacher. We would like to thank The Ohio State University Press for granting permission to republish Ede’s final published essay. The essays by Michael Faris, Jessica Restaino, Asao Inoue, Vicki Tolar BurtonEhren Pflugfelder, Tim Jensen, Kristy Kelly, Sarah Tinker Perrault, and Rachel Daugherty remind us, through their memories of Lisa Ede, what our work means: its purpose and significance. 

Rebecca Dingo, Co-Editorarticles 

I feel fortunate, that my first issue as co-editor follows the timely and powerful summer issue (Peitho 23.4) on “Race, Feminism, and Rhetoric” edited by Gwenolyn Pough and Stephanie Jones.  Although some of the essays for this Fall 2021 issue were already in the pipeline prior to me coming on as co-editor, it was my goal in editing this first issue’s articles to make sure that the powerful and challenging conversations, methods, and critical theories developed in the summer issue be taken up in our current issue. Indeed, I asked each of our article contributors—all of whom were in some way addressing race, geopolitics, nation, feminism, and rhetoric in their articles—to extend the conversation from the special summer issue. I felt it was important that the articles printed in this Fall 2021 issue reflect the vision that Pough and Jones assert: that feminist rhetorical scholarship must address the “ways that race, feminism and rhetoric intersect across time, in this moment, and around the world.” In this issue, I sought to extend their commitments, and their sentiment resonates strongly with my vision for the journal’s articles over my next four years as co-editor.  

I see the feminist study of rhetoric, composition, and communication to be at an interesting and important place. I believe that Peitho is poised to address the deep cultural tensions—around race, gendered violence, white supremacy, and imperialism that exist within the U.S., within the US’s complex transglobal relations, and often throughout the globe. These tensions make it necessary for feminist work to evolve and change. As the contributors from the “Race, Feminism, and Rhetoric” special issue make clear, feminist scholars must think about gender and race in “nuanced” (Jones and Pough), intersectional (Dziuba and Fain), “collaborative” (Browdy), and “contextually driven” (Plange) ways. Current events in the U.S. and across the world demonstrate quite readily that these scholars’ approaches (and more approaches!) are desperately needed in our field. For example, in the U.S., we continue to see blatant and deadly racism, sexism, and gendered violence at the hands of white people in power, which has fueled activist commitments to social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and MeToo. Yet, in broadening outside of the U.S., we are (hopefully) emerging from a global pandemic that has laid bare the deep racial, gendered, and geopolitical systematic inequalities that were (for those with privilege, at least) until then, more hidden. Beyond the pandemic, we are seeing the continued punishment and inhuman treatment of migrants as they seek to escape prosecution—Muslims in China, children at the US-Mexico border, Yemini and Syrians scattered throughout the Middle East and Europe (and other places), desperate migrants from the Middle East used as political pawns between Belarus and Poland, to name a few. Likewise, scholars and activists are now actively naming the structures of white supremacy that imbue all aspects of U.S. and global culture; at the same time, transnational feminist scholars, particularly U.S.-based Black scholars and women of color from the U.S. and Global South, have for a long time challenged all feminists to address how imperialism, settler colonialism, neocolonialism, and neoliberal political economies (e.g. Kaplan and Grewal, Lowe, Mohanty, Hong, Spivak, to name a few) thrive and persist through the rhetorical processes of racialization, gendering, and exclusion (see e.g. in our own field, Dingo, Orr, and Flores).  

These are the conversations that I believe ought to be at the forefront of Peitho; these are the approaches and topics I hope to forward during my time as co-editor overseeing article publication. While many feminist rhetorical scholars such as Aja Martinez, Strom Christine Pilloff, Jennifer Lin LeMesurier, and Kyle Larson have already begun to take on these issues within Peitho and Peitho continues to extend its commitment to racial justice, more work needs to be done to identify the rhetorical patterns and processes that support intersecting structures of racism, white supremacy, ethnocentrism, heterosexism, gender, imperialism, and inequalities within political economies. I have been excited by the queer and decolonial feminist rhetorical scholarship Peitho has recently showcased that start to make these connections. Using a queer feminist lens, scholars such Rachel Presley and GPat Patterson and Leland G. Spencer importantly have re-imagined ways to decenter whiteness.  Similarly, Sophia Maier, V. Jo Hsu, Christina V Cedillo, & M. Remi Yergeau demonstrate the ways disability, imperialism, colonialism, and heteronormativity are fractally related. Yet, following scholars such a Lisa Flores, Lisa B. Y. Calvente, Bernadette Marie Calafell, and Karma R. Chávez, it is also time to begin examining critically the field of feminist rhetorical studies’ theoretical underpinnings, commitments, methods, and practices to account for its own raced, gendered, imperialist, and ethnocentric focus. As co-editor, in addition to displaying new work in already established areas, I would like to draw Peitho readership’s attention to new approaches in the field that address these sorts of structures of power. Indeed, I call for more work that draws attention to how rhetorics can shape (and re-shape), continue, structure, and expose systems of power.  

In this Fall 2021 issue, I asked for article contributors to name and site the places where knowledge-making specifically around race, feminism, and rhetoric was coming from and, as a result, readers will see the direct ways that the contributors have taken up the work of the summer issue. I deeply appreciate that the authors took up this challenge, and I hope that doing so sets the tone for the future of Peitho 

Yet, I also want to highlight that each essay critically forwards new feminist methods and lenses that draw readers’ attention toward how white women’s relationships to intersectionality developed, how to engage in reparative historiography to highlight buried voices, how to consider rhetorical agency under settler colonialism and within a racist imperial system, and how neoliberal political economy limits, links, and asks for new feminist rhetorical practices and feminist rhetorical methods that attend to silences and bodies. For example, in the essay, “Ghostwriting for Racial Justice: On Barbara Johns, Dramatizations, and Speechwriting as Historical Fiction,” author Zosha Stuckey examines how reparative historiography methods can offer feminist scholars ways to recreate texts that have not been archived. Likewise, in “Rhetorical Failures and Revisions in the Second-Wave: Emerging Intersectionality in the Ethe of Activist Zelda Nordlinger,” Megan Busch considers how white women were reframing their feminist approaches to think about race and class in the 1970s, during the second wave U.S.-feminist movement. Much like Stucky’s essay in this issue, in “Indigenous Women’s Voices in the Colonial Records of South Africa: Asking for Permission,” authors Emily January Petersen and Breeanne Matheson search through colonial records in South Africa to see how indigenous women developed agency to survive and maintain their cultural practices (even when their direct voices were absent from archives) within a violent settler colonial system that thrives on racial hierarchies.  Working between the continents of Africa (specifically Uganda) and North America (specifically the U.S.), in the essay “Silently Speaking Bodies: Affective Rhetorical Resistance in Transnational Feminist Rhetoric,” author Ashley Canter considers how two groups of women from different locations and cultures used their bodies to protest when their voices were ignored in order to draw attention to environmental degradation in the local communities; in each case, women physically strip themselves of clothing or hair to draw attention to the destructive strength of neoliberal political economies and the resulting land loss. Taken together, these articles turn our attention to the various ways that feminist scholars can highlight individual rhetors while making visible the operations of rhetoric in both structuring and resisting the interconnected systems of structural racism, white supremacy, ethnocentrism, heterosexism, gender, imperialism, and inequalities within political economies.   I hope that you find these essays continue to grow and showcase the feminist commitments and spirit of our field.   

Clancy Ratliff, Co-EditorRecoveries and Reconsiderations  

When I was in graduate school in the early 2000s, I did a fair amount of rabble-rousing online (in the early days of the blogosphere) in an effort to push the field of rhetoric and composition studies toward more online, open-access scholarly publishing. I and other graduate students from various universities would get together at conferences and proclaim that more senior scholars needed to be publishing in these journals so that they would have more prestige: in other words, using their privilege to support these journals. I am now trying to be the full professor I wanted to see in the world when I was a student. I have always read and valued Peitho, and I admire the Coalition’s forward-looking thought in transforming the Peitho newsletter into an open-access journal. I still believe in paywall-free scholarship and am grateful to have the opportunity to serve the discipline as co-editor of Peitho. Like Rebecca, the editorial team and I share the commitment to making Peitho a journal that centers intersectional and global feminisms and critiques caste systems in the United States and elsewhere (Wilkerson) and that respects the labor of authors, reviewers, and everyone else involved in the production of each issue. Rebecca and I have read and will be observing the practices in “Anti-Racist Scholarly Reviewing Practices: A Heuristic for Editors, Reviewers, and Authors.” This statement of best practices is a vital guide for anyone involved in academic publication.  

My primary role as co-editor is working with the Recoveries and Reconsiderations section of the journal. The CFSHRC announced this new feature in 2019, envisioning it as a space for shorter pieces of scholarship that may engage new and emerging developments in feminisms and rhetorics, or that provide some initial analysis of archival materials, or a new perspective on an old topic. Recoveries and Reconsiderations is a space for starting new conversations in feminist studies.  

This issue features three Recoveries and Reconsiderations essays. Taken together, these articles illustrate the complexity of the kyriarchy (as Rachel Presley has used the term), the simultaneity of workings of power, and the ways that people struggle against some aspects of systems of laws, norms, and practices while benefiting from other aspects. Mary Le Rouge’s essay “Research on the Literate Practices of Field Matrons on the Hopi Reservation” is a vivid example; Le Rouge writes about one of her ancestors, her great-great-grandmother, who was a field matron on the Hopi reservation. The field matron program was one of many functions of settler colonialism: white women were hired to go into Indigenous people’s homes and teach Indigenous women how to keep house like white settler women. This program served to erase Indigenous foodways and medical knowledge, among other traditions, and field matrons also played a role in the removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in violent boarding schools. Le Rouge explains that this is a program that she has directly benefited from, as her great-great-grandmother was able to support herself and her sons financially by doing this work. Le Rouge shows that white women in 2021 need to sit with the knowledge of this particular way that white women perpetuated settler colonialism. Jaclyn Fiscus-Cannaday’s article provides an examination of feminist coworking spaces. While perhaps the most well-known service for renting office space is WeWork, Fiscus-Cannaday investigates spaces that are specifically designed for women, like CAMPspace and The Riveter, and raises interesting questions about how space can be used rhetorically. Susan Ghiaciuc, Cathryn Molloy, and Vanessa Rouillon offer a notable reconsideration: S. Weir Mitchell was a physician who is remembered primarily for the restrictive “rest cure,” which served as containment for women experiencing emotional pain. The focus of Ghiaciuc, Molloy, and Rouillon’s work, however, is not Mitchell, but instead Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, a feminist woman who wrote letters to Mitchell. They suggest that other men in history may have likewise been engaged in correspondence with women who challenged their views, and they encourage scholars to look for these kinds of archival materials.  

Future Plans 

We, the incoming editorial team, bring new ideas to Peitho, and we welcome feedback on these ideas as well as other new ideas. We are interested in using Creative Commons licensing for articles as a way to concretize our commitment to open access publication. Creative Commons licensing is a way to grant permissions in advance, such as permission for an author to put a copy of their Peitho article in their university’s institutional repository of scholarship, as some universities require or encourage faculty to do. Some versions of Creative Commons licenses also allow readers to create derivative works of articles, such as a graphic novel version of an article or an audio recording, which increases accessibilityThe image used for the cover of this fall’s issue is a Creative Commons licensed photograph taken by NASA, titled “Sunrise from the International Space Station,” and its license allows use of the photograph as long as the original source is attributed and the derivative work (our cover, in this case) is for noncommercial use. We are experimenting with audio recordings of articles, and we hope to release these eventually. We are also including image descriptions in the captions of images in our articles; in doing so, we want to help normalize this practice. As we begin our term as editors, we welcome inquiries, recommendations, and ideas of all kinds, including ideas for clusters in future issues and topics for special issues. We hope you learn from the articles in this issue and that they prove to be generative, inspiring response and continued thinking and acting within your communities.  

Works Cited 

Anti-Racist Scholarly Reviewing Practices: A Heuristic for Editors, Reviewers, and Authors. 2021. tinyurl.com/reviewheuristic. Accessed 23 Nov. 2021. 

Browdy, Ronisha. “Black Women’s Rhetoric(s): A Conversation Starter for Naming and Claiming a Field of Study.” Peitho, vol. 23, no 4, Summer 2021. 

Calvente, L, Bernadette Marie Calafell & Karma R. Chávez (2020) Here is something you can’t understand: the suffocating whiteness of communication studies,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 17:2, 202-209. 

Chávez, Karma R. “Beyond Inclusion: Rethinking Rhetoric’s Historical Narrative.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 101, no. 1, Feb. 2015, pp. 162-172.  

Dingo, Rebecca. “Speaking well: The benevolent public and rhetorical production of neoliberal political economy.” Communication and the Public, vol. 3, no. 3, 2018, pp. 232–246. 

Dziuba, Allison. “We Want to Be Intersectional”: Asian American College Students’ Extracurricular Rhetorical Education.” Peitho, vol. 23, no 4, Summer 2021. 

Fain, Kimberly. “Black Feminist Rhetoric in Beyoncé’s Homecoming.” Peitho, vol. 23, no 4, Summer 2021. 

Flores, Lisa A. Deportable and Disposable. The Penn State UP, 2021. Print. 

Grewal, Inderpal, and Caren Kaplan. “Transnational Feminism Cultural Studies: Beyond the Marism/Postsrtucturalism/Feminism Divides.” Between Women and Nation. Vol. 2. Durham: Duke UP, 1994. 430-45. Print. 

Hong, Grace. “Existentially Surplus: Women of Color Feminism and the New Crisis of Capitalism.” GLQ , vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp. 87 – 103. 

Larson, Kyle. “Remonstrative Agitation as Feminist Counterpublic Rhetoric.” Peitho, vol 20, no. 2, Spring/Summer 2018. 

LeMesurier, Jennifer Lin “Searching for Unseen Metic Labor in the Pussyhat Project.” Peitho, volume 22, no. 1, Fall/Winter 2019. 

Lowe, Lisa. The Intimacies of Four Continents. Duke UP, 2015. Print. 

Maier, Sophia, V. Jo Hsu, Christina V Cedillo, and M. Remi Yergeau. “GET THE FRAC IN! Or, The Fractal Many-festo: A (Trans)(Crip)t.” Peitho, vol. 22, no. 4, Summer 2020. 

Martinez, Aja Y. “The Responsibility of Privilege: A Critical Race Counterstory Conversation.” Peitho. Vol. 21, no. 1, Fall/Winter 2018. 

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. ““Under Western Eyes” Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 28.2 (2003): 499-535.  

NASA Johnson. “Sunrise from the International Space Station.” www.flickr.com/photos/nasa2explore/29185510223. Accessed 23 Nov. 2021. 

Ore, Ersula J. Lynching: Violence, Rheotric, and American Identity. U Mississippi Press, 2019. Print. 

Patterson, GPat and Leland G. Spencer. “Toward Trans Rhetorical Agency: A Critical Analysis of Trans Topics in Rhetoric and Composition and Communication Scholarship.” Peitho, vol. 22, no. 4, Summer 2020. 

Pilloff, Storm Christine. “Métis and Rhetorically Listening to #BlackLivesMatter.” Peitho, vol. 23, no. 1, Fall 2020. 

Pough, Gwendolyn and Stephanie Jones, “On Race, Feminism, and Rhetoric: An Introductory/Manifesto Flow…” Peitho, vol. 23, no 4, Summer 2021. 

Presley, Rachel. “Toward a Trans Sovereignty: Why We Need Indigenous Rhetorics to Decolonize Gender and Sexuality.” Peitho, vol. 22, no. 4, Summer 2020. 

Spivak, Gayatri.  A Critique of Postcolonial Reason:Toward a History of the Vanishing Present. Harvard UP, 1999. Print. 

Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, 2020. Print. 

Because Trans People Are Speaking: Notes on Our Field’s First Special Issue on Transgender Rhetorics

While there have been a good many special issues around trans topics in other fields—and while the flagship journal, Transgender Studies Quarterly is nearly ten years old now—for K.J. and I, two1 trans scholars in rhetoric and composition, this special issue (the first of its kind in our field) feels like a long time coming. To observe that this special issue, which exclusively focuses on trans topics, is “new” doesn’t quite get at the importance of this moment. This is, quite simply, for many of the contributors included here, the issue we needed as graduate students—and, if we’re being honest—perhaps, even now, as faculty.

There have, of course, been several notable special issues and edited collections in rhetoric and composition on LGBT topics. We value these collections for the conversations they have opened up in our field. And yet, as Patterson and Spencer observe in this issue, there’s something deflating when it comes to searching for transness in such collections only to find that the “T” is more often than not silent. You begin to wonder if there’s anyone out there like you—or if you’ll only ever be the only gender-expansive scholar (or educator)  in your orbit. You wonder if our field’s journals will ever acknowledge the trans-specific research, writing, teaching, and professional experiences you encounter. You wonder how much of the professional advice espoused in such academic literature actually applies to you.

This isn’t, of course, to say that trans people are monolithic, nor is it to say that some of us haven’t benefited from LGBQ scholarship written by our cisgender colleagues (no doubt, we have)—but there is something important, something necessary, about centering trans-specific inquiries, concerns, and experiences. Though this inaugural special issue on trans rhetorics is just the beginning of the conversations that need to happen in our field, we nevertheless hope our readers experience even a fraction of the life-affirming joy we feel in bringing scholarly voices together around this topic. For our fellow trans and gender-expansive students and colleagues, we hope this issue provides a moment of feeling seen and valued within our field—which, as Hsu, Maier, Cedillo, and Yergeau rightly point out in this issue, regularly fails to consider “the multidimensionality of trans experience,” even as it attempts at trans inclusion

Setting our enthusiasm aside for the moment, I devote the rest of our introduction to anticipating and answering the following questions that our readers are likely to ask:

  • how are we defining trans?
  • are the authors here exclusively trans?
  • what does trans have to do with rhetoric?
  • and why does this special issue belong in Peitho?

Trans, we posit, is a somewhat imperfect umbrella term to describe those who disidentify with the sex and/or gender designated to them at birth. As Rawson and Williams have elsewhere opined, the definition of trans, along with the people who do claim the term is—and perhaps always will be—an enduring process (6). To be crystal clear, however, we understand trans as an umbrella that welcomes those of many (and even multiple, and in some cases, no) genders. We honor our trans sisters and brothers, and all of our gender-expansive and gender-agnostic siblings. Our nonbinary, agender, bigender, pangender, genderqueer, and genderfluid kin are not only “valid” (as the many internet memes insist), their insights and rhetorical contributions are also valued and welcomed here. As LeMaster illustrates through their intervention in this issue, nonbinary scholars offer important lenses for interrogating “racist cisheterosexism.” Moreover, as Bey illustrates in their essay on the connections between blackness and nonbinariness, one may find possibility, invitation even, extended to “the marginalized and the outcast.”

It also feels important to add that trans is not a universally welcome term to describe all gender-expansive people. Indeed, as Presley echoes in this issue, we must be vigilant in rooting out a troubling colonial impulse to label people without their consent—or to erase other gender cosmologies under the rubric of transness. Nor should culturally-specific terminology, traditions, histories, and identities be appropriated (or used as a prop) “to dismantle gender oppression and the gender binary system” (Towle & Morgan, 471). All gender-expansive people ought (as we will expand upon later) to be granted the rhetorical agency to speak for themselves.

And here we pivot to the second question: Are all of the people featured in this special issue trans? In brief, no. This collection includes the work of cisgender authors, gender-questioning authors, trans authors—and, of course collaborations between them. That being said, our primary aim in editing this collection was (and is) to feature trans voices—particularly multiply-marginalized trans voices. We trust our readers not to interpret this aim as some shot across the bough at cisgender scholars, who also write on trans topics. We value our cisgender colleagues. At the same time, we echo Barsczewski’s insistence (in this issue) that while cis researchers can (and sometimes should) write about trans topics, they may want to “deeply consider whether they need to speak on trans experiences and to ask themselves why.” This point isn’t inconsequential. As it stands, the majority of published scholarship on trans experience has been published by cisgender academics (Galupo, 1).

In recent years, several trans scholars have published pieces lamenting the experience of being crowded out by their cisgender colleagues—who, however sincerely they may be committed to trans scholarship, simply cannot lay claim to the same embodied, emotional, and socio-political ties that trans scholars have to their communities (Benavente and Gill-Peterson 25; Chu and Drager 103-104; Malatino 407-408). For this reason, we invite our cisgender colleagues to join us as co-conspirators—crafting a scholarly ethos that not only resists monopolizing trans airwaves but that also actively seeks to signal boost trans voices, whenever their privilege affords them such opportunities (Patterson 149-150).

With this in mind, we pivot to the next question: what does trans have to do with rhetoric?

Perhaps the answer to this question seems obvious—but we think it’s worth stating explicitly. Some might say, for example, that trans becomes relevant to rhetoric at the level of argument. Indeed, there seems to be no shortage of arguments “about transness”: Are trans kids too young to assert their genders? Should trans people be allowed into gender-segregated spaces with “everyone else”? Should trans athletes be able to participate in competitive sports? Are nonbinary people just snowflakes trying to get attention with their made up genders? Isn’t it a bit ridiculous to talk about menstruation and pregnancy in gender neutral ways? What’s the harm, really, of gender reveal parties? Isn’t trans identity a sin? Aren’t trans people asking for trouble by misleading people about “who they really are”? Isn’t it a slur to be called cis—or to be called a TERF?

Such arguments abound. And sometimes, as trans colleagues sharing your hallways and departmental spaces, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being called upon to act as informants. Not long ago, for example, I found myself in the inevitable position of being asked by a cisgender colleague and fellow rhetorician (who sidled into their office without so much as a by-your-leave): “I mean, you can see that there are both sides to this whole trans debate, right?”

So let’s be clear: trans identities are not up for “debate.”

Trans people are not topics to be trotted out into our classrooms for the purpose of practicing “the arts of persuasion” through sloppy pro/con arguments. Trans people are real human beings. As Hibbard and Bartels remind us in their contributions to this issue, trans people are our students, our fellow colleagues. Trans people are our neighbors, our partners, our friends and family members. And, as Jackson, DiCesare, Rawson, and McCormick also remind us in their contributions to this issue, trans people are rhetorical agents—moving through the world as activists, writers, educators, creatives, lawyers, workers, healthcare professionals, politicians, and community organizers. Trans people are crafting arguments that, quite frankly, need listened to, because cis culture’s profound lack of imagination about the ways gender is weaponized and racialized doesn’t just result in terrible arguments—it results in danger, precarity, and soul murder for gender-expansive people.

For us, what trans has to do with rhetoric hinges upon the simple fact that trans people are speaking. Full stop.

Finally, I close this essay by addressing what may (for some) seem like the elephant in the room: what are the connections between transness and feminism? Why does this special issue belong in Peitho?

There are several ways to answer this question. An optimist might answer that feminism is for everyone. For instance, it seems relevant to point out that, in 2016, the Coalition of Women Scholars in Rhetoric & Composition changed the name of their organization to the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in Rhetoric & Composition to highlight this very fact. And, indeed, addressing and redressing kyriarchal violence extends well beyond the experiences of white cishetero women. Trans-inclusive feminism, Stryker and Bettcher argue, can be charted all the way back to Combahee River Collective’s 1977 statement, which rejected biological determinism as the basis for politics (9).

It would be remiss, however, to ignore the fact that trans culture tends to harbor simultaneous feelings of affection and ambivalence toward feminism. Many of us, after all, have cut our teeth on the writings of feminist scholars, cis and trans, whose words lit up the night sky for us. On the other hand, it is also painfully true that some feminist academics still tend to over-rely on a cis-centric gender binary (Keegan, 10) and sometimes publish reductive narratives about trans people (Awkward-Rich, 825-827). And, in turn, some of these feminist publications are then used to justify policies meant to deny trans people access to housing, employment, medical care, legal documents, bathroom access—along with a host of other indignities. Such violences call to mind the now thoroughly memed question: if your feminism isn’t intersectional, then who’s it really for? But it also feels important to ask, if feminism is the robust organizing principle it presents itself to be, then why does this question need to be asked in the first place?

Our job here isn’t to resolve this issue for readers—nor is it to belabor the connections between our contributors’ scholarly insights and what (by some) may be regarded as the traditional concerns of feminist scholarship.

We are here to take up space. We are here because trans people are speaking—and we are indebted to our trans elders (those who are living and those who have walked on), whose radical insistence in taking up space and speaking anyway has made our lives possible.

Endnote

  1. I’d like to thank my co-editor, K.J. Rawson; my partner, the newly-minted Dr. Mandy Watts; and my friends-and-colleagues, Jen Wingard and Jo Hsu, for generously offering up feedback on this introduction. I’m lucky to have y’all in my world.

Works Cited

  • Alexander, Jonathan, Janell Haynes, and Jacqueline Rhodes, Eds. “Public/Sex: Connecting Sexuality and Service Learning.” [Special Issue] Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service-Learning, vol. 9, no. 2, 2010.
  • Alexander, Jonathan, and William Banks, Eds. “Sexualities, Technologies and the Teaching of Writing.” [Special Issue] Computers & Composition Online, vol. 21, no. 3, 2004, pp. 271-400.
  • Alexander, Jonathan, and Jacqueline Rhodes, Eds. Sexual Rhetorics: Methods, Identities, Publics. New York, Routledge, 2016.
  • Awkward-Rich, Cameron. “Trans, Feminism: Or, Reading like a Depressed Transsexual.Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 42, no. 4, 2017, pp. 819-839. University of Chicago Press, doi: 10.1086/690914.
  • Banks, William, Matthew Cox, and Caroline Dadas, Eds. Re/Orienting Writing Studies: Queer Methods, Queer Projects. Logan, Utah State UP, 2019.
  • Benavente, Gabby, and Gill-Peterson, Julian. “The Promise of Trans Critique: Susan Striker’s Queer Theory.GLQ, vol. 25, no. 1, 2019, pp. 23-28. Duke University Press, doi: 10.1215/10642684-7275222.
  • Chu, Andrea Long, and Emmett Harsin Drager. “After Trans Studies.TSQ, vol. 6, no. 1, 2019, pp. 103-116. Duke University Press, doi: 10.1215/23289252-7253524.
  • Combahee River Collective, “Combahee River Collective Statement.” Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith. New York, Kitchen Table Press, 2000, pp. 264-274.
  • Galupo, M. Paz. “Researching while Cisgender: Identity Considerations for Transgender Research.International Journal of Transgenderism, vol. 18, no. 3, 2017, pp. 1-2. Research Gate, doi: 10.1080/15532739.2017.1342503.
  • Keegan, Cáel M. “Getting Disciplined: What’s Trans About Queer Studies Now?Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 67, no. 3, 2020, pp. 1-14. Taylor & Francis, doi: 10.1080/00918369.2018.1530885.
  • LeMaster, Benny, and Amber L. Johnson, Eds. “Unlearning gender—Toward a critical communication trans pedagogy.” [Special Issue] Communication Teacher, vol. 33, no. 3, 2019, pp. 189-198. Taylor and Francis Online, doi: 10.1080/17404622.2018.1467566.
  • Malatino, Hil. “Pedagogies of Becoming: Trans Inclusivity and the Crafting of Being.” TSQ, vol. 2, no. 3, 2015, pp. 395-410. Duke University Press, doi: 10.1215/23289252-2926387.
  • Mayberry, Maralee, and Lane Hansen, Eds. “Transgender Youth: Focusing on the “T” in LGBT Studies” [Special Issue]. Social Sciences, vol. 5, no. 4, 2016.
  • Morrison, Margaret, Ed. “Queer Rhetoric.” [Special Issue] Pre/Text, vol. 13, no. 3-4, 1992.
  • Nicolazzo, Z, Ed. “Introduction: what’s transgressive about trans* studies in education now?” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, vol. 30, no. 3, 2017, pp. 211-216. Taylor and Francis Online, doi: 10.1080/09518398.2016.1274063.
  • Patterson, G. “Entertaining a Healthy Cispicion of the Ally Industrial Complex in Transgender Studies.” Women & Language, vol. 41, no. 1, 2018, pp. 146-151.
  • Rawson, K.J., and Cristan Williams. “Transgender*: The Rhetorical Landscape of a Term.Present Tense, vol. 3, no. 2, 2014.
  • Spurlin, William J., Ed. “Lesbian and Gay Studies/Queer Pedagogies.” [Special Issue] College English, vol. 65, no. 1, 2002.
  • Stryker, Susan and Talia M. Bettcher. “Introduction Trans/Feminisms.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 1-2, 2016, pp. 5-14. Duke University Press, doi: 10.1215/23289252-3334127.
  • Towle, Evan and Lynn Marie Morgan. “Romancing the Transgender Native: Rethinking the Use of the “Third Gender” Concept,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol. 8, no. 4, 2002, pp. 469-497.

Editor’s Welcome

It has been humbling to be the editor of one the few Rhetoric and Composition journals dedicated to feminist work, throughout the Trump administration and now during the global protests working to validate, celebrate, and at least ensure that Black Lives Matter in the U.S. Regardless of my personal scholarship and political commitments, I have viewed my editorial mission to expand the definition of feminist work in the field through the submissions and publications in Peitho.

At this moment, I am reflecting and asking myself: is that enough? Is the move toward inclusion of BIPOC authors and scholarship merely a mark of performative allyship rather than authentic allyship? And if it is, what else can I do as a journal editor to challenge that model, so that I am not implicitly gatekeeping and maintaining the status quo. Regardless of my vision for Peitho, it is still a journal that follows academic convention. And by its very inception, as we have seen in the brave accounts posted in #BlackinTheIvory, the academy is built on the principles of white supremacy. So no matter how much we try to open the gates, those gates always already belong to the power base.

Therefore in my final year as editor, I want to continue to question what it means to be a feminist in our field by asking all contributors to think about the following:

  1. How does your scholarship engage with or intervene in historical or current systems of oppression?
  2. Who are you citing? Are you citing feminists of color?
  3. How can we engage history, rhetoric, writing to work to dismantle systems of oppression that create vast inequalities in our field, our country, and the world?

I recognize these are big questions, but nevertheless they are important ones. And I believe it is the responsibility of all of us doing feminist scholarly work in our current political moment. Regardless if we look at historical figures and texts, or current political movements, we all need to be thinking about how our work can engage with the larger critiques being made across disciplines of
#[insertdisplinehere]sowhite.

In the upcoming journals, we are demonstrating how Peitho is working to shift the conversations around feminism and history in our field. In our current issue there is the new Recoveries and Reconsiderations section, which Wendy Sharer will discuss more in her introduction to the section. I am hopeful that this section is a space to begin conversations about the field’s history and how we can re-center our own historical narratives. Our next Summer Special Issue is devoted to Transgender Rhetorics and will be published on August 15th. KJ Rawson and GPat Paterson have put together an issue that will help us think through questions of gender, activism, and responsibility in important ways. And in our Fall 2020 issue we will have a special article cluster commemorating Rhetorical Listening, with an Introduction by Krista Ratcliff and a Response by Cheryl Glenn, all edited by Timothy Oleksiak.

Each of these sections and issues are sites where we can begin conversations on what it means to be a feminist, in composition and rhetoric and in the greater world. And it is my hope that these conversations will create spaces where we can continue to speak truth to power in Peitho, instead of merely gatekeep the conventions of the academy. We have a lot of work to do, and I intend to make space for that work in this journal during my last year as editor.

Stay Safe, Be Well, Keep Fighting.

Jen Wingard
Editor

Editor’s Welcome

Editor’s Welcome

Jen Wingard

All of this news is to say that as Peitho continues to grow, please continue to read and submit your work here. It is an exciting journal with a long history of feminist commitment and scholarly support in the field of rhetoric and composition. And it is certainly continuing to be a thriving place for intellectual work. 

Editor’s Welcome

This is why having a journal such as Peitho, that publishes work that looks to both the historical and the current moment as sites of feminist analysis, is so valuable. And this particular issue of Peithodoes this work. It moves the analyses between past and present with an eye toward how each time period is not static, but rather a conversation point in a larger feminist project. It is not enough to rely on the lessons from the past, which at times fall on deaf ears it seems. But we must put those lessons in conversation with the happenings of the present, so that we may learn how to create stronger arguments, analyze seemingly disparate happenings, and ultimately learn how to work together as accomplices[1]rather than mere allies.

[1]Martinez, Aja. “The Responsibility of Privilege: A Critical Race Counterstory Conversation.” Peitho 21.1 (Fall/Winter 2018): 212-33.

Editor’s Welcome

Changing the Landscape: Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies, Five Years Later