FemRhets 2023: Call for Papers

2023 Feminisms and Rhetorics Deconference

Feminisms and Reckonings: Interrogating Histories and Harms, Beginning Restorative Practices

Submit your proposal here by April 30, 2023  May 5th at midnight local time.

Spelman College Department of English invites proposals for the 13th Biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference to be held at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, September 30 – October 3, 2023.

The conference theme challenges us to reflect on this moment of national, even global, racial reckoning, underscored by an emergence of a new Jim Crow and a return to open and aggressive acts of white supremacy. People from marginalized communities have perpetually lived in and through pandemics. As we emerge into a world with on-going pandemic ways of being and ways of knowing, the Coalition of Feminist Scholars aims to host a conference in which we reckon with what COVID-19 more fully exposed and engage conversations about the long history of exclusionary practices that are at the nexus of our field. So much of our scholarship acknowledges the Temperance and Suffrage Movements as pivotal moments in feminist practices, but what we frequently do not discuss is that those moments were couched in racial tensions–tensions that continue to linger in intellectual spaces and with which we must figure out how to engage, grapple, and reckon.

A Spelman FemRhet calls for a reckoning of all harmful literacy and academic practices. Black women have been calling for an end to exclusionary thought and practices for more than a century. Notwithstanding, the works of the Combahee River Collective, Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill-Collins, bell hooks, and many more have explained that First and Second Waves Feminism left out women of color. Period. However, the works of Jackie Jones Royster and Shirley Wilson Logan recovered the important work of Black Feminist Rhetors. The work of Beverly Moss has provided views of contemporary Black women’s rhetorical spaces in churches, reading groups, and writing groups. In her book Rhetorical Healing: The Reeducation of Contemporary Black Womanhood, Tamika L. Carey reclaims and situates wellness campaigns and rhetorical healing practices firmly in Black Women’s rhetorical discourses, aligning with and providing a foundation for engaging issues and conversations of restorative practices at a Spelman College FemRhet. Eric Darnell Pritchard shows us, through the stories in Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy, the intellectual harms inflicted upon LGBTQ communities through the dominant culture’s literacy practices, and despite these revelations, our colleagues remain excluded.  

What are our disciplinary next steps? We need to create inclusive and egalitarian academic communities. We need to dismantle walls erected between campuses and communities and view our work and our students’ work as relevant to communities writ large. We need to restore where needed and transform when possible. And the first step is to dismantle hierarchies and deconstruct exclusionary spaces and practices discipline-wide. “Feminisms and Reckonings” will be a de-colonized conference–a de-conference–one that invites all kinds of scholarly endeavors and initiatives. We welcome proposals for workshops, roundtables, panels, working groups, think tanks, storytelling, and more—we welcome individuals who amplify a multiplicity of scholarly and community voices and answer questions like the following:

  • How do we dismantle hierarchies?
  • How do we restore harms–those done within our classrooms, at our institutions, within our disciplines, and at our conferences?
  • How do we create inclusive and egalitarian communities?
  • How do we create spaces for mentorship and engagement?
  • How do we offer support for progressive scholarship?
  • How do we embrace and include all scholarly voices?
  • How do we engage communities in academic spaces?
  • How do we offer spaces for community partnerships?
  • How do we become agents of change on our campuses?
  • How do we become agents of change in our disciplines? 
  • How do we become agents of change in our communities?
  • How do we value embodied experiences, such as affect and emotion?
  • How do we center marginalized voices and experiences?

This conference will foster personal and professional development through traditional opportunities to share scholarship, as well as professional and pragmatic training opportunities, with spaces for real, meaningful, and transformative intellectual exchange. Feminisms and Reckonings will imbed workshops on community-engaged pedagogy and scholarship, as well as restorative pedagogy and practices. We will create spaces in the programming for conference attendees to participate in community-engaged projects designed by Spelman College students in English, Women and Gender Studies, and Social Justice programs. Sessions in the de-conference will include traditional tracks, but through deep research and discussion, center issues of anti-racism, community engagement, and restorative practices that engage, grapple, and reckon with lingering racial tensions within our field and beyond. In the words of Jackie Jones Royster and Gesa Kirsch, we are hoping for this de-conference to be a tectonic shift.  

Session Types

We are excited to invite proposals for in-person sessions and pre-recorded virtual sessions, which will be shared and shown on a looped schedule during the in-person conference. We encourage and are open to a variety of presentation styles, in approximately 15 to 75-minute segments, including but not limited to the following:

  • Individual Presentation and Performance: 75 to 100 word abstract; 250 word proposal  
  • Panel Presentation and Performance – 3 to 4 presenters: 150 to 200 word abstract; 750 word proposal
  • Roundtable Discussion –  4 or more presenters: 150 to 200 word abstract; 500 word proposal
  • Poster Presentations – individual or collaborative presenters (1 poster per submission): 150 to 200 word abstract. Posters will be presented during a designated time during the conference session.
  • Actionable Workshops by individuals or collaborative presenters in 2.5 hour increments: 150 to 200 word abstract; 500 word proposal AND outline of proposed activities with foci on activism, antiracism, circle participation and facilitation, pedagogy, restorative practices, community engagement, and other topics that scholars are passionate to propose.

In the spirit of reckonings and restoration, we will have sites throughout the conference with professionally facilitated circles, for storytelling demonstrations and performances, and about how to “do” activism and community engagement. These “how-tos” should provide practical guidance for participants to take back to their local communities. Perhaps–in the spirit of creating inclusive and egalitarian communities–we will invite creative opportunities for attendees to join in community-creating activities such as group singing, drumming, collaborative storytelling, and much more. 

Note: Presenters are limited to two speaking roles but may participate in as many other participant roles as desired. Submissions will be blind reviewed. Abstracts must not contain any information that will identify presenters or speakers. Proposals should indicate if the presenter desires in-person or virtual consideration.

Important Dates:

Submissions open: Mid-March: Click here to submit your proposal on Oxford Abstracts.

Proposal Deadline: April 30