feminism and rhetoric

Last week a student told me that she didn’t want to come across as feminist in her paper. Like a good teacher, I asked her why and a short conversation ensued. Over the years, most of my students have shared a similar sentiment. I’ve had almost no students identify as feminist. I’ve been teaching for ten years.

I mention this because this weekend I attended a rhetoric conference in my city, which meant that I got to sleep in my own bed and was alert and well-rested for the conference. (Conferences are usually a blur of jet-lag and light sleep, all while desperately clutching at ideas that are flying out of people’s mouths too quickly.)

I got a lot out of this conference. When I attend a conference, I usually lean toward the composition and pedagogy side of things out of necessity. But, my first love, my deeper, intellectual understandings came mid-undergraduate degree in anthropology, sociology, and especially gender studies classes.

Feminism has always been my way in to these discussions. In other approaches, there is often an overwhelming roar “THIS DOES NOT CONCERN YOU!” But, in feminist conversations, I belong. I have wanted to do more with feminism and rhetoric. My scholarly path has veered more toward the practical pedagogical side of things—though I’ve long suspected that I would eventually, more explicitly, make my way back to feminism.

In addition to (excessive) live Tweeting of the conference, I found myself frantically taking notes about project ideas and creative inspiration. I know I want to do more with feminism and my doula work, but I’m not exactly sure how it will all come together. I need to read more. Attend more presentations on feminism and rhetoric. Jacqueline Rhodes and Kristin Arola’s work was particularly inspiring. Hopefully, there’s more to come.

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