A WOST Coffee Break

February 21, 2011

“Using Feminist Methodologies for a Project on Women’s Culture”

Library Conference Room, Thursday, February 24, 1:00 p.m.

Sarah R. Robbins, Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature, TCU

Almost a decade in the making, Nellie Arnott’s Writings on Angola, 1905-1913 is a book project that drew on feminist methods of research and writing to tell a story drawn from women’s history, but resonating with many gender-based issues of today. Like many feminist research projects, this one embraces recovery and critique of little-known women’s experiences as a worthwhile goal. Thus, the book examines the daily lives of women missionary teachers working in a cross-cultural setting at a time when European and American excursions into Africa raised complex social issues whose legacies shape today’s transnational politics. In a Women’s Studies (WOST) coffee break discussion, Sarah Robbins will revisit the stages of this research, which brought together a literature scholar, an historian, archivists from multiple libraries, women veterans of the mission movement, numerous student interns, and a multidisciplinary advisory board. Professor Robbins, Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature in TCU’s English Department, will analyze ways in which this research’s womanist content provided guiding principles for doing the work. But she will also describe its gender-inflected challenges (such as the unsuccessful attempts to secure funding for a companion website and the difficulty of finding a print-text publisher for Arnott’s writings).

Sarah’s reflection on the project’s interdisciplinary methodology will range from a consideration of feminist modes of knowledge-making and a celebration of collaboration to a critique of ways that academic structures still impede such enterprises. The session will invite participants to join in shared problem-solving growing out of one “case study” of gendered research and writing in action.