In a relay race, as a runner nears the teammate to whom she will handoff her baton, she signals her approach by calling out, “Stick!” Different from the stick that pairs with a carrot or the police officer’s truncheon, both instruments of discipline and (potential) violence, the sprinter’s stick is a shared object that changes hands in a split second which encapsulates months and even years of teamwork and practice.
As the 2014-2016 term ends, and I prepare to handoff leadership of the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition to Lisa Mastrangelo, our next President, we follow in the footsteps of the 11 Coalition Presidents who have come before us over the past 27 years: Kathleen Ethel Welch, Andrea A. Lunsford, Cheryl Glenn, Shirley Wilson Logan, Kris Ratcliffe, Joyce Irene Middleton, Kate Adams, Lynée Lewis Gaillet, Barb L’Eplattenier, Nancy Myers, and Liz Tasker Davis. (See years served.) All of us—along with all of the next Presidents—are thrilled to announce the establishment of a new Coalition Award: The President’s Dissertation Award, which will be given every other year at the Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference along with the Lisa Ede Mentoring Award and the Nan Johnson Outstanding Graduate Student Travel Award.
The Coalition team is anchored by the Advisory Board, which is comprised of 30 elected members, including the Coalition’s 6-person Executive Board. This term, the EB included President Jenn Fishman, Vice President Lisa Mastrangelo, Treasurer Marta Hess, Secretary Tarez Samra Graban, Immediate Past President Liz Tasker Davis, and Member at Large Nancy Myers. As the current term comes to a close, several AB members are concluding their service, and we thank them most sincerely: Maureen Goggin, Jacque McLeod Rogers, Dora Ramirez-Dhoore, Shirley Rose, and Liz Tasker Davis as well as Andrea A. Lunsford, who will become an ex officio member of the Advisory Board.
Ex officio or non-voting AB members provide both leadership and insight. They include both former long-serving AB members and colleagues appointed to specific Coalition roles: Archivist and Historian, Director of Digital Media and Outreach, Feminisms and Rhetorics Chairs or Co-Chairs, Web Coordinator, and Peitho Editor(s). In October at FemRhet 2015 in Tempe, AZ, we announced the next 2 conference locations: In 2017 our University of Dayton, OH, colleagues Liz Mackay, Patrick Thomas, Margaret Strain, and Susan Tollinger will be our hosts, and in 2019 FemRhet will convene at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, hosted by Jen Almjed, Elisabeth Gunnior, and Traci Zimmerman. In the last months we also filled 2 new Coalition positions: Alexis Ramsey-Tobinne will serve as our first Archivist and Historian, while Trish Fancher will serve as our first Director of Digital Media and Outreach.
The real heart of the Coalition is the membership, and Coalition members, working together with feminist colleagues from all quarters of the profession, positively outdid themselves at CCCC 2016 or, as it was known on social media, #4C16. To start, 2 dozen colleagues, including representatives from the Asian/Asian American, Black, and Latinx Caucuses and the Disabilities Studies SIG, offered 12 concurrent microworkshops that engaged audience members-turned-participants in discovering new strategies for all kinds of feminist action both in and outside the classroom, both online and off. Coalition members also hosted 10 mentoring tables, where facilitators led conversations about everything from editorial collaborations and formulating research questions for historical scholarship to feminist WPA work, undergraduate research mentorship, and feminist transnational scholarship.
During our Wednesday night session, we also announced the recipient of the 2016 Winifred Bryan Horner Book Award. The Selection Committee this year was chaired by Liz Tasker Davis and included Jane Donawerth, Liz Kimball, Arabella Lyon, and Hui Wu. They read 10 stellar works, which individually and together speak to the vibrancy of feminist scholarship in feminist pedagogy, practice, history, and theory in our field. With great pleasure and appreciation, they gave honorable mention to Carolyn Skinner’s monograph Women Physicians & Professional Ethos in Nineteenth Century America (SIUP, 2014), and they gave this year’s award to Cristina Devereaux Ramirez’s monograph Occupying Our Space: The Mestiza Rhetorics of Mexican Women Journalists and Activists, 1875-1942 (UAP, 2015) (Watch Cristina accept the award here!)
Whether you were in Houston for 4C16 and want to reminisce or you couldn’t make it and are curious, you can peruse the Action Hour program and click through Trish Fancher’s Storify retrospective: #thefeministsarecoming #4C16. It just may be the case that two hashtags related to our activities were the most tweeted during the conference: #FemU, the hashtag microworkshop leader Christine Martorana asked us to use, inspired by the Bitch Media article “Beyond the Feminist Classroom” by Trish Kahle; and our very own hashtag, #CWSHRC! You can even see for yourself via video:
For my part, I can think of no better way to have started the Houston convention and no better way to end the 2014-2016 term. As we race ahead to not only a new term but also new leadership on the Executive and Advisory Boards, a new editor at the helm of our journal, Peitho, and new ways of naming ourselves and working together, I know I look forward to all of it and especially to coalitioning with all of you.