Introduction and Invitation
Over the past few years, the Coalition has worked to create an increasingly transparent, interactive, and welcoming Wednesday night SIG for its members. At the annual event, for example, presenters used to be chosen at the discretion of the President. Now, however, presentations are submitted by members for vetting by a blind committee, and are chosen for their appropriateness for the evening’s theme.
The presentations of the past few years have also deviated from traditional 20 minute talks, allowing for the more feminist goals of audience discussion, participation, and interaction. At this year’s SIG “Building Sustainable, Capable Lives or Tilting at Windmills? An Evening of Action and Mentoring Sponsored by the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Composition and Rhetoric,” attendees participated in the first part of the session by helping to create a perzine in response to this year’s theme. This was followed by themed discussions. We were thrilled that this year’s event was attended by approximately 120 people, despite a large snowstorm on the East coast, and pouring rain in Portland!
The theme this year dealt with the very real feminist issue of time (or lack thereof) that so many academics face. Presenters and audience members explored questions from the following:
What does it mean to have a work/life balance? Is it possible? What is the cost, either if we do, or if we don’t? How do we build and maintain sustainable (and even joyful) lives? How do issues such as gender, race, class, academic rank, and geographic location alter our circumstances? What theoretical and/or practical factors (political, financial, emotional, etc.) have impacted our abilities to create sustainable lives, and what theoretical and/or practical factors might help us to do so?
As Bridget Schulte explores in her work on leisure theory, how do we achieve “work-life integration” and make wholeness from what she calls “time confetti”? All presentations were centered around this idea—how DO we work productively, produce a product, and maintain our sanity?
In response to this call, presenter Christine Martorana led the group in a perzine activity. Seeing zines as a way to write and create in a limited space and time, Christine provided supplies and each table worked to make pages for a perzine. As she notes in her introduction to the zines produced, the genre allows for writers to combine the linguistic and visual, harness ideas, use creativity and alternative materials, and express thought all through the medium of a zine page. These pages were then compiled and can be seen here in an amazing visual display. For me, the perzine displays our concerns about not having enough time to write at the same time that it creates a written product. It expresses our members’ desires to lead more productive lives while at the same time helps them to produce. Using prompts to help the creators, Christine helped participants turn “time confetti” into a visual, visceral, cohesive zine.
Next, Kathleen J. Ryan and Christy Wenger led the room in a five-minute guided meditation, reminding the room that meditation and thoughtfulness are possible even in busy spaces. Taking a five-minute break to recenter ourselves, even in the midst of noise, can often be the best defense against our sense of increasing fragmentation.
The remainder of the hour was designed to help people discuss various issues and concerns regarding our busyness and the way it clashes with our need to be productive, producing scholars and teachers. Presenters Shelley Hawthorne Smith, Charlotte Hogg, Melissa Nichols and Leslie Anglesey, and Kathleen and Christy presented on important issues such as including yoga, meditation, time management, and prioritization to help presenters see ways to better balance busyness and productivity with self-care. Presenter Jeanne Marie Rose was unable to attend due to the snowstorm in the Northeast but has contributed her materials on journaling and parenting here. We are pleased to include many others’ materials here too.
As always, the evening concluded with mentoring tables, designed around the conference theme and meant to help provide smaller group discussions about issues that affect us in our lives. While our “usual suspects” (the history table, and tables centering around issues of feminist administration) were there, we also added tables on theme-related topics such as dealing with dual career situations, negotiating for ourselves, engaging in community-related work, and networking skills for those who tend towards introversion.
After the conference, we wanted to find a way to continue the conversation and to remind people of the fabulous (and fun!) work of creating a perzine and discussing ways to keep ourselves centered and productive without the everyday community presence of the Coalition. We hope that you enjoy the presence of the zine and the presentations, and we look forward to seeing you at future Coalition events.
Many, many thanks to all of you who escaped the East coast early to attend the Coalition meeting and to all of you who braved the rain to be with us!
Special thanks go to Nancy Myers, Lynee Gaillet, Roxanne Aftanas, and Wendy Sharer, who served as reviewers for this year’s proposals. In addition, we thank Jen Wingard, the editor of Peitho, for helping guide this to publication as part of the Fall 2017 issue of the journal. In addition, Jen England contributed invaluable expertise with WordPress and thoughtful design to help shepherd the electronic version of this forward.
Schulte, Bridget. “Why Time is a Feminist Issue.” Sydney Morning Herald, 10 March 2015.