Winner of the Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award: Jean Bessette’s Retroactivism in the Lesbian Archives

The Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award honors its namesake by recognizing outstanding, book-length contributions in the areas of feminist pedagogy, practice, history, and theory in rhetoric and composition. For the 2018 award, the Coalition received an unprecedented 16 nominations, reflecting the great breadth and diversity of feminist academic work, from subject matter and research methods to modes of delivery and exigences addressed. We want to thank everyone who nominated publications this year as well as the publishers of the print and digital books that were nominated. In addition, we want to thank all of this year’s authors for their inspiring contributions to feminist work in our field.  The Coalition is pleased to announce that Jean Bessette’s Retroactivism in the Lesbian Archives is the recipient of the 2018 Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award.

2018 Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award: Retroactivism in the Lesbian Archives by Jean Bessette


Cover of Book

Jean Bessette’s Retroactivism in the Lesbian Archives moves beyond a recovery of women’s rhetorics to take up questions of women’s rhetorical methodology and historiography. She addresses a gap in our disciplinary literature on lesbian rhetorics and 20th century women’s rhetorics. She furthermore complicates our field’s approach to archival research, particularly with regards to the digitization of artifacts, and illuminates how women act collectively to revise their community identities. Her additional analysis of a more contemporary archive, the It Gets Better project, helps to clarify her use of the concept of retroactivism, of making a place for the future. Every day, we are all engaged in the practice of producing what will in the future be archives, and Bessette demonstrates the importance of queer visibility in our archive-making practices.

Honorable Mention: Writing on the Move by Rebecca Lorimer Leonard and Fashioning Lives by Eric Darnell Pritchard

The 2018 Winifred Byran Horner Outstanding Book Award selection committee would like to give an honorable mention to two outstanding contributions to feminist research in rhetoric and composition.

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard’s Writing on the Move is relevant to many ongoing conversations in rhetoric and composition as she addresses women’s literacies across their lifespans. Leonard’s work fills a gap in our knowledge about rhetoric and writing outside the college classroom. She additionally provides language and a framework for interpreting the experiences of migrant literacies that could be used by future researchers with different populations.

Eric Darnell Pritchard’s Fashioning Lives work balances the personal and academic to fill a much-needed gap in our scholarship on intersectionality, Black queer identities, and literacy practices. His impressive mixed-methods research, along with approaches to “literacy normativity” and restorative literacy”, provides a framework for future researchers to employ. In addition, Pritchard’s work brings empirical evidence to bear on questions of intersectionality and experiences of literacy.

Our thanks go to this year’s selection committee–Janine Morris, chair, Emily Cope, Nan Johnson, Clancy Ratliff, and Rachel Riedner–for the many hours they have spent reviewing and discussing the nominated books. We will be accepting nominations for this award again in the fall of 2020.

CFSHRC Executive and Advisory Boards