Did you know that Blue Monday came early this year?
It did, and I didn’t even remember to listen to Fats Domino to cheer myself up. Sure, the start of a new semester is exciting in many ways, but I don’t think I am alone when I say that one of the challenges — especially in Canada — is resolving to find productive and positive ways of getting through the dark months. Well, guess what? I have happened upon a productive, positive, and challenging new project that might just do the trick!
Here is the context: last semester a student, J., in one of the classes I was teaching (Writing by Women (Medieval to 20th century) started talking with me about feminist consciousness-raising. What kinds of opportunities could we create on campus to foster intergenerational discussion about feminism, we wondered. How might we get a group of people together to talk about the “fundamentals” of developing a feminist consciousness, especially when those fundamentals are not the same for everyone? What kinds of experiential, institutional, and intergenerational mentorship are possible when you get a group of people in a room together who are only loosely connected?
As J. and I started brainstorming about these and other questions we realized that we wanted to put on a workshop. On campus! This semester! The premise is simple: to create sustainable feminist discourse on a campus people from different generations and experiences need to get together and learn how to talk with one another as well as begin to learn about the different opportunities for putting your voice out in public. We are planning to have a panel of invited speakers from across the disciplines who will all be asked to reflect on their processes of navigating gendered identity in their work and life. We are currently working with other students to develop questions which they will pose to the speakers, and we are planning a writing action as well. For the writing action we are planning to give attendees a prompt — how do you begin to negotiation “right” and “wrong” feminist positions — and to demonstrate three genres in which they might craft responses. We’re also working to build an archive of texts for reference and self-edification (think “Laugh of the Medusa,” “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens,” and CWILA’s Introduction to Numbers, as some examples). There will also be a living archive of writing resources and a blogroll.
I’m excited about this! Do you have any experience running on-campus intergenerational feminist workshops? Any suggestions for formats, texts, and resources? Bring ’em on!
And, in the service of fighting of the blues of Mondays in January with artistry and inspiration, here is a bit of magnificence brought to you courtesy of 6-year-old Terra.