Issue 14
(Spring 2018)

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From the Editors



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From the Editors

We are pleased to introduce another set of wide-ranging contributions to feminist scholarship that make up this fourteenth issue of JFS. In our lead article, “Precarious Responsibility: Teaching with Feminist Politics in the Marketized University,” Lena Wånggren considers the relationship between the increasingly corporate university and the correlated casualization or precarization of academic work. Building on earlier work that focused on the working conditions of casualized (“adjunct,” “contingent”) feminist academics, Wånggren turns to examining the pedagogies of these educators. While all faculty on insecure contracts face similar problems, ranging from little sense of control over their teaching or their lives to material restrictions, Wånggren claims that feminist educators face special challenges, as their precarious status may hinder them from the pursuit of the social justice objectives of feminism in their classrooms. Wånggren offers both testimonials and concrete proposals for casualized feminist educators to teach with responsibility. Such measures range from canon criticism to confronting discriminatory attitudes that can cause students to shut down or withdraw psychologically.

Charles E. Hicks’s “The Maternal Assemblage: Nonprocreative Maternity as Contagion and Resistance” examines how nonprocreative maternal identity is positioned in a heteronormative symbolic framework as the antithesis of biological or “real” motherhood. Hicks critiques the subjection of nonprocreative maternal bodies to the fantasy of wholeness embodied in the image of the Child, which frames the nonprocreative mother as deviant and fails to challenge a heteronormative future. In response to this predicament, Hicks’s proposed strategy of resistance to monomaternalism draws on the heightened level of interconnectivity that the nonprocreative mother sustains with other “deviant” bodies, allowing for the emergence of a plural maternal assemblage capable of producing a queer child, which in turn challenges heteronormativity by infecting the child’s futural horizon with alterity and difference.

In “Just Like Us: Elizabeth Kendall’s Imperfect Quest for Equality,” Kate Rose retrieves American academic Kendall’s all but forgotten 1913 travelogue, A Wayfarer in China, through the lens of feminist analysis. In performing this retrieval, Rose demonstrates that early feminists did not just argue for women’s equality through the written word but also developed and framed their lived experience as an argument for equal rights. According to Rose, Kendall’s gender allowed her to engage more openly and creatively in crosscultural interactions while also both confronting and occasionally succumbing to prejudice. Rose considers Kendall’s white privilege as a factor partially accounting for the ease of these interactions and dissects complex intersectional dynamics of Kendall’s self-identifications. She also draws compelling connections between Kendall’s account of her travels in China and the immigration policy and anti-Chinese prejudice in early twentieth-century United States.

“Battleground Texas: Gendered Media Framing of the 2014 Texas Gubernatorial Race,” by Susan E. Water, Elizabeth A. Dudash-Buskirk, and Rachel M. Pipan, delves into American politics and examines how gender differences impact public discourse and the outcome of elections. In their discussion of the 2014 Texas gubernatorial race, which pitted Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott against State Senator Wendy Davis, the authors question whether and to what extent the positioning of the female candidate in the role of “woman-as-speaker” impacted the media construction of the campaign. In doing so, Water, Dudash-Buskirk, and Pipan argue that until social constructions of woman-as-speaker change, the impact of gender stereotypes on campaign outcomes needs to be interrogated, as women candidates will continue to fall short of the level of success that men achieve in seeking public office.

In this issue of the Journal of Feminist Scholarship, we are also including a new format: a photo-essay, Hinda Mandell’s “Recreating and Reenvisioning Scandal: A Photographic Exploration of the Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner Press Conferences” with photographs by Meredith Davenport. In this feminist photography project, student volunteers recreated the images of Spitzer and Weiner with their wives at the key press conferences when these politicians announced their respective resignations amid sexual scandals. However, unlike Silda Spitzer and Huma Abedin, who stoically performed the supporting role of “the good wife” during the conferences, the student actors were encouraged to express how they would have felt and acted without the restrictions of established social expectations. Through their project, Mandell, Davenport, and the students trace creative pathways by which we may begin to reconfigure our thinking about the “gendered suffering” of female political spouses.

ISSN 2158-6179

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