Feminist Loyalties/Academic Disloyalties in Public

AHA Session 156
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Marquette Room (Hilton Chicago, Third Floor)
Anna Reser, Lady Science
Leila A. McNeill, Lady Science
Jacqueline Antonovich, University of Michigan
Melissa Brown, University of Maryland, College Park
Elizabeth Garner Masarik, State University of New York at Buffalo
Kathleen Sheppard, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Session Abstract

This session is a roundtable discussion about public feminist history between four online independent feminist history outlets: Blackfeminisms.com, Nursing Clio, Dig: A History Podcast and Lady Science. Moderated by Lady Science editors, this discussion proposes new approaches to feminist history through unconventional media like podcasts, academic blogs, and independent online magazines.

We are interested in the potential of these media forms to change the practices of doing history in public, but we are also concerned with the potential risks. Openly feminist history presented in online media is subject not only to harassment from anti-feminist readers, but often substantial pushback from within the academy itself. New media create new opportunities for doing history in public, but they can also expose the insularity and conservatism of the discipline. We are interested the opennesses and accessibility that becomes possible when we abandon old practices of gatekeeping and mythbusting.

This context, and the flaws inherent in new media forms, present unique challenges for feminist history, and for the discipline as a whole. We will discuss the different ways that we each have carved out space for ourselves in various media: Melissa Brown of Blackfeminisms.com and Jacki Antonovich of Nursing Clio in academic blogs, and Averill Earls and Elizabeth Masarik of DIG in podcasting. As feminist academics and collectives using these media platforms, we are focused on seeking out an audience beyond academic circles and learning how to make rigorous, but accessible, arguments about history for diverse publics.

We believe that doing feminist history in public is a social justice project. The general inaccessibility of academic history curtails the public’s access to feminist thought. We have stakes in gender and racial equity that we want to make visible through our study of history, and we know that others do as well. By ensuring that our content is always open and free, we can make tools for political agency widely available.

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