Stone Walls and Summer Projects

Dear All,

The central terminal of the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa is architecturally significant. Some of the walls are constructed of polished geologic stone as if to mark the origins of the continent, and on some of these stone walls the traveler will see a carving or marquee with an African proverb. The attribution of these proverbs is interesting – sometimes they are unknown, sometimes they are far too broadly attributed, and at other times they are mis-attributed but have become woven into the postcolonial discourses of an African country nonetheless. Regardless of its origins, this particular proverb has come to my mind repeatedly over the past few months, as an indication of how the Coalition’s idea of feminist scholarship has informed – and continues to inform – the work of the field at large: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

In this mid-summer post, I offer a small sampling of how this proverb comes to bear on our work:

After the 2018 Rhetoric Society of America conference, momentum is building for next year’s 8th Biennial Summer Institute, co-directed by Jessica Enoch and Kristy Maddux at the University of Maryland. Held in close proximity to Washington, D.C., the Institute promises heavy engagement with 5 core concepts that have proven meaningful in feminist scholarship and prevalent in the activities of our organization.

In June, the Coalition’s Advisory Board made the significant decision to co-sponsor the opening reception at this year’s Cultural Rhetorics Conference, partnering in programming with the Cultural Rhetorics Consortium for 2018.

Those attending the Council of Writing Program Administrators conference in Sacramento next week might keep their eyes open for Coalition cards and flyers, announcing the Coalition’s 30th anniversary in 2019 and highlighting the vital contents of Peitho 20.2, as well as a new CFP for the journal that calls attention to women’s health as a collective rhetorical legacy.

Finally, what began as individual projects for two Coalition members have burgeoned over one or more decades into collaborative explorations of their own or their loved ones’ diasporic pasts, and this seems as good a time as any to share their news. Cristina Ramírez, one of our Executive Board members, is leading a workshop at next month’s MALCS Summer Institute (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social) based on the barrio rhetorics employed by Chicana writer Ramona González, and focusing especially on González’s role among Mexican immigrant communities in South El Paso, Texas. Alexandra Hidalgo, co-founder of agnès films and owner of Sabana Grande Productions, is releasing The Weeping Season, a feature documentary shot over 14 years of investigating her father’s 1983 disappearance in the Venezuelan Amazon, and weaving together the complex testimonies of family, community, and friends.

None of these achievements has come fast or alone – in fact, most have resulted from years of invisible labor, collaboration, and planning – yet each of them models how far reciprocal work can take us in the interest of advancing feminist research and pedagogy, and in the service of developing methods, praxis, and politics for the profession that we share. I believe it’s the case that I could query any five Coalition members at random and find they are in the midst of discoveries this reciprocal and significant. That possibility – indeed, that reality – characterizes my enthusiasm for our group and my recognition of those very cherished collaborators who have taught, mentored, trained, or encouraged us.

Sending wishes for a restful remainder of the summer,
-Tarez Graban, CFSHRC President