I am pleased to share this post on behalf of Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne, Coalition Archivist and Historian. -Wendy If you, like me, are missing the community of our C’s Wednesday night SIGs or are pining for the quick hallway conversations between sessions at Fem/Rhet, I invite you into the CFSHRC archive where we have a collection […]
The Coalition (first known as the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition) was founded in 1989, in response to a perceived need from scholars in the field for mentorship and scholarly support for those doing feminist historical work in the field. In March of 1990, in Chicago, the Constitution (written by Kathleen Welch) was signed by Kathleen Welch (President), Marjorie Currie Woods (Vice President), Winifred “Win” Horner (Secretary), C. Jan Swearingen, and Nan Johnson. Since then, the group has focused on mentoring as a key goal for the organization.
The group first began to present at its Wednesday night meeting at the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication in 1994, and has presented annually ever since. Following an hour of talks on recent developments in the field, members move in the second hour to mentoring tables, initially designed to foster political action and assist women faculty in navigating the often difficult political landscapes of English departments and tenure. Conversations have since broadened into areas such as collaboration, feminist WPA work, work-life balance, and publication.
In 1997 the organization began co-hosting the biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, offering a space for feminist scholars in rhetoric and composition to present their intellectual work.
In 2016, the organization officially changed its name to The Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition.
The Coalition’s history is ongoing, but at two moments — in 2008 and in 2014 — that history was captured in film.
- “In Their Own Words: The History and Influences of the Coalition,” by Wendy Sharer and Michelle Eble; remastered by Alexandra Hidalgo, with transcript by Don Gamill, Jr. Please visit our blog for more about the remastering of this project.
- Lifting As We Climb,” by Alexandra Hidalgo (published in Peitho 18.1)
Between 2011 and 2013, the Coalition began building an archive of key administrative documents for its officers and members. In 2013, the archive project expanded in scope, with the goal of capturing and organizing its past and present histories in a way that made sense for an organization conducting most of its business through e-mail or electronic exchange, while also making visible information that would most interest feminist researchers. Constructing it in this way has helped spawn some creative historical projects, including a series of videos and films, and an overview of the Coalition’s rhetorical activism within its own conference spaces.
While some administrative information is only accessible to the Executive Board each term, most of the archive is publicly accessible by Coalition members and other researchers on request. (E-mail our current archivist, Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne.) Materials are available in the following categories:
- Annual Meetings and Board Meeting Documents
- Coalition at Conferences
- Constitution and Bylaws
- Feminisms and Rhetorics Planning
- Logos and Artwork
- Subcommittee and Task Force Work
- Treasurer Reports
- Videos and Video Projects
A comprehensive finding aid is now available, and will be updated periodically.
If you have artifacts to share, questions about what to contribute, or queries about documents you would like to browse or search within the organization’s administrative archive, please contact Alexis Ramsey-Tobienne, current Historian/Archivist.
In preparation for celebrating our 30th anniversary at the Wednesday night SIG at CCCC this past spring 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA, I asked our thirteen past presidents to reflect on their tenures with the Coalition—their proudest achievements, hurdles they faced, their own relationship to the organization, and how it helped them as a scholar, or as a feminist. The history that emerged from these reflections is one of joyous collaboration, of deep friendships, of a commitment to helping each other, and of very, very hard work.
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.