“Lifting As We Climb,” Since 1989

There are three films currently held in the Coalition archives. Taken together, they help narrate the Coalition’s history through interviews with past-presidents and members, highlights from the 25th anniversary gala at the 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication, and highlights from the 2015 Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference.

These films relive several areas of growth in the organization, from early meetings among founders in hotel rooms, hammering out details of a first constitution, to more formalized Wednesday night sessions just prior to each Conference on College Composition and Communication; from testimonials of feeling professionally isolated in home departments to testimonials of cross-institutional mentoring; from encouraging research into women’s rhetorical acts to celebrating a wide range of feminist scholarship through conferring various awards; and more. In them, we hear repeatedly that the Coalition has been a kind of home—a place where newer members of the field can learn from more established members—but also that its work is just beginning. As much as the organization has developed over the past 30 years, there is still much more work to do.

In Their Own Words: The History and Influences of the Coalition, by Michelle F. Eble and Wendy Sharer, 2008 

This documentary focuses on the Coalition’s early years—the factors that motivated its founding, the writing of its Constitution, the early meetings and collaborative structures—and then considers some of its influences on the field. Specifically, the themes throughout the video reflect the organization as an intellectual home and its commitment to fostering mentoring relationships. The film includes interviews with Joyce Middleton, Lynée Lewis Gaillet, Krista Ratcliffe, Kathleen Welch, Winifred Horner, Andrea Lunsford, Nan Johnson, Cheryl Glenn, Shirley Logan, and Katherine Adams. In 2014, the film was remastered for closed-captioning by Alexandra Hidalgo, and a transcript was created for the archives by Don Gamill, Jr. See our Vimeo page and a series of 2014 blog posts for information about the remastering of this project.

Lifting as we Climb: The Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition 25 Years and Beyond, by Alexandra Hidalgo, 2014. 

Created as part of a web-based publication, Hidalgo’s article and film are permanently linked to Peitho, Lifting as we Climb. “Lifting as we Climb” reprises the Coalition’s history and revives certain stories of its founding while also looking critically at its efforts to diversify and expand. Echoing Mary Church Terrell’s statement of upward movement and forward struggle, the aptly titled film includes footage from the 25th Anniversary Gala (held on Wednesday evening prior to CCCC 2014), member-contributed photographs, and in-depth interviews. Hidalgo interviewed four Coalition Presidents to include Kathleen Ethel Welch, Andrea A. Lunsford, Joyce Irene Middleton, and Elizabeth Tasker-Davis; as well as two non-Board members, Jacqueline Jones Royster and Suzanne Bordelon. In framing much of the documentary around their ideas of exclusion and inclusion—for example, trading the isolation early Coalition members felt when they were the only women in their departments, or when they had to navigate the tenure process alone, for the sense of community they eventually built through and in the Coalition’s Wednesday night mentoring tables; or noting the disparity between the recovery of feminist rhetorical action in members’ early scholarship and the underrepresentation of trans-national and minority rhetorics in current scholarship and membership—this film is both a celebration of our history and a reminder that we have to continue to lift one other up and invite more voices to the field.

10th Biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics Recap, video from Arizona State University, by Steven W. Hopkins, 2015. 

Showcasing snippets from different presentations, working groups, lunches, and informal gatherings, Hopkins captures in video and sound a sense of what the feminisms and rhetorics conferences are—social, collaborative, creative, enthusiastic gatherings of feminist scholars. With an emphasis on Women’s Ways of Making, the 2015 Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference served as a particularly rich backdrop for a variety of presentations, including spinning, drawing, speaking, and other media, a testament to how the conference encourages multimodal engagements with subjects and audiences. Accessible at YouTube.

Contributed by A.E. Ramsey-Tobienne and T. S. Graban.