Doing Feminist Histories

doing feminist history
Source: Unsplash

I was recently privileged to receive the support of CHRG to attend a feminist history workshop and symposium hosted at the University of Technology, Sydney. This was the first presentation that detailed significant findings from my PhD thesisA feminist frontier? Analysing women’s experiences on evangelical sites in Oceania, 1861-1907. It was also an opportunity to meet with other emerging feminist historians working with issues of materiality, discourse, archives and feminist theory.

The informative and supportive tone of the day was set by Dr Ana Stevenson and Dr Alana Piper’s workshop, How to Approach Public Engagement in the Digital Age. As co-founders and editors of VIDA, Alana and Ana provided valuable insight into how to publish a collaborative blog. Attendees were informed such publications are an ideal starting point for new scholars as they learn publication processes and gain critical (but not harmful) feedback. Participating in forums such as this site, Nursing Clio and Australian Policy and History Network provides historians with opportunities to share their research with the public as ABC Radio or The Conversation picks up the scholars work to share with their audiences. A practical element of the day was a session on how to write and submit a pitch to such outlets/forums.

The following symposium consisted of three panels: Feminist Activism; Feminist Sources and Archives; and Feminist Media and Representations. The day ended with the Plenary Session, How to Do Feminist History, focused on teaching, publishing and mentoring issues. This fascinating line-up demonstrated the emerging feminist historians are producing research that offers numerous benefits, including  new historical perspectives and theoretical approaches. At the conclusion of the symposium a thoughtful provision by the convenors, Dr Chelsea Barnett and Dr Isobelle Barrett Meyering, was the Resource Kit. This contained participant contact details, resources for feminist historians, a feminist guide to Twitter, and links to selected blog pieces.

At the end of the day, regretting my inability to stay for the launch of Gender Violence in Australia: Historical Perspectives I collapsed into my seat on the airplane. I was exhausted, but with a sense of focused determination:  there are amendments to be made to my thesis from thoughtful conversation with other attendees and I have an improved understanding of how to present to an unknown audience. My attention is now turned to continuing these conversations, and sparking new ones, when I attend the Feminisms/Femininities Symposium in November.

Deb Lee-Talbot

This post was first published with Deakin University’s Contemporary Histories Research Group.