Critical Border Crossings:

Stories, Texts and Their Feminist Travels

Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

1-4:30 p.m. EST

Stories, in published and oral forms, have the capacity to create and reinforce norms while also nurturing resistance to injustice or gestating a more equitable world. This symposium highlights stories and texts across a range of forms and genres, exploring the relationship between their movement from person to person, context to context, culture to culture as well as their role building communities and relationships. Foregrounding processes of circulation and transmission also invites us to consider the forces that enable some ideas to traverse literal and metaphorical borders while also keeping others “in place.” In this two-panel symposium, panelists explore traditional and indigenous stories, mass-market fiction, scholarly work, and ephemera to illuminate the politics and processes of storytelling and publishing.

Live captioning (CART) will be provided.


Schedule (all times are EST):

1:00-1:15 p.m.: Introduction (Agatha Beins and Beth Currans)

1:15-2:30 p.m.: “Publishing Travels.”

Waterways of Sovereign Articulation: Place-Worlding Feminist Publishing with The Lake by Corinn Gerber 

In this presentation, The Lake is three things at once: A book, a body of water, and an epis­temology of publication. The project, into which I was involved as a co-publisher, was initiated by Maggie Groat (Skarù·ręʔ and Kanyen'kehá:ka) in 2014. Departing from Groat’s lived investigations into Skandariio (Lake Ontario), the project gathered Indigenous peoples and set­tlers, knowledge holders, artists, poets, scholars, youth organizations, Elders, and water protectors from across Canada and the U.S. at the shores of a book to ask: What shape will our relationships to the lake, and to each other, take in the future? 

My presentation will respond to this question following Anishinaabe teachings, in which women are the water keepers, and building on Abenaki scholar Lisa Brooks’s concept of place-worlding. This allows me to unfold an Indigenous feminist publishing epistemology of the Great Lakes, where information continues to travel along waterways that cross the borders of settler states.

Publishing Feminisms: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Traveling Texts by Heather Hewett

This paper examines the travels of two feminist texts authored by Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should All Be Feminists (Fourth Estate 2014) and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (Knopf 2017). It traces how these texts have traveled circuits created by global capital and contextualizes them in the publication history of mainstream, primarily white-authored feminist texts in the U.S. What, if anything, do they suggest about current publication and reading practices regarding feminist texts? about what “counts” in current epistemological and theoretical frameworks that constitute transnational feminism in the academy and feminism in the U.S.?

Feminist Noir?: Travel, Translation, and the Canonization of American Cold-War Crime Fiction by Erin Smith

The canonical U.S. noir writers of the 1950s—Charles Willeford, Cornel Woolrich, Jim Thompson—moved from “trash” (sensational paperback originals) to Literature through travel.  Their translation / republishing as part of the prestigious Serie Noire from Gallimard Press in Paris cemented their literary reputation and their canonization as crime classics.  American women crime writers of the Cold War--not sanctified by Paris--went out of print. These writers did their traveling across time to new readers as part of feminist recovery projects of the 2000s, emerging as feminist commentators on gender, violence, crime, and the state.  I use the example of Dorothy Hughes’s The Blackbirder (1943) to illustrate both how the text itself thematizes travel and how its reprinting transported it to a new generation of readers. 

Censoring Anglogynophobia: Reconsidering the Disappearance of the National Alliance of Black Feminists (1974-1983)by Ileana Nachescu

This paper interrogates the marginalization of the National Alliance of Black Feminists (NABF) in women’s movement histories, in spite of NABF’s extensive intellectual output, numerous publications, and a long, rich history of social activism. I argue that NABF’s theorization of Anglogynophobia, feelings of distrust and animosity toward white women, in a series of articles that was ultimately censored, undergirds this politics of erasure. The NABF is presented as derivative, belated, and not radical enough compared to other Black feminist organizations of that time. I argue that Anglogynophobia is a concept that can help us move beyond white fragility and that NABF writings belong in the canon of 1970s feminist theory.

2:30-2:45 p.m.: break

2:45-4 p.m.: “Storytelling Moving Within and Across Borders.”

Transnational Storytelling and the Making of “Affective Solidarity” in Translation by Emek Ergun

My paper explores the affective power of retelling stories of resistance in translation, a vital practice of transnational feminisms. Translation is conceived here as a polyversal, transversal journey of storytelling during which the traveling text’s new reader is emotionally moved by its border-crossing story towards dreams and doings of justice. Borrowing from Clare Hemmings, I call this form of relationality “affective solidarity” and look into the role of translation in nurturing justice-oriented transnational affectivities. I draw on my Turkish translation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred to discuss whether translating this very American story can be considered a case of “affective solidarity.”

Expanding the Narrative: An Open Access Book Celebrating 50 Years of GWSS by Julie Shayne

This presentation is about my open-access book Persistence is Resistance: Celebrating 50 Years of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, which I started to create an historical record and resource for GWSS programs. In it, I will discuss the importance of the way GWSS stories are told, including who tells them, as well as how we share and access said stories. Keeping these issues in mind while working on Persistence is Resistance, I recruited diverse authors with respect to race, geographical locale, rank, and institutional location. In this presentation, I will discuss the feminist implications to those decisions and why I chose the open-access as opposed to the university press format. I maintain that open-access lends itself more easily to feminist publishing, as well as transnational, cross rank (including students,) and cross institutional collaborations.

Filming Maithil Women's Stories: The Poetics, Politics, and Praxis of Transnational Filmmaking by Coralynn Davis

In this presentation I discuss a film I am producing that explores the ways that women’s folk stories are harnessed for creating new visions for womanhood in Mithila, a region on the border of Nepal and India. Centering on a women’s tale that follows the fate of a girl accused of having inappropriate relations with a boy in the forest and who is therefore cursed by her father, the film documents a project whereby local residents create an enactment of the story. The film brings viewers into a world in which people deploy narrative to grapple with shifting cultural terrain.

Once Upon a Podcast: Oral Storytelling as Resistance by Shannan Palma and Wanda Swan

Through the “Once Upon A Patriarchy” podcast, myth and media studies scholar Dr. Shannan Palma and survivor advocate Wanda Swan explore the messaging in and impact of Disney’s animated films in a manner both critical and playful. Emphasizing the points-of-view of women of color and LGBTQ+ folks, they employ podcasting as a tool of resistance to democratize scholarship and extend important conversations about representation beyond the academy. After Palma presents guests with a brief overview of how source material and production context influence what appears on screen, Swan guides them through a discussion framed by three questions: what themes emerged for you in watching this film and learning more about its evolution? How do these themes play out in your anti-oppression work? How would you retell this story? In this talk, they will frame how they use podcasting to reclaim oral storytelling as a form of resistance. 

4:00-4:30 p.m.: Wrap-up Discussion (Agatha Beins and Beth Currans)

This event is free, but you must register in advance:


Eastern Michigan University
Texas Women's University