"Periodicals, as a form of print activism, militate against the homogenizing logic of 'the final word' by creating multimodal spaces that can accommodate the voices of different and dissenting women.”[i]
What can a systematic documentation and analysis of second wave feminist periodicals in the U.K., 1970-1990, reveal about the role of print-based networks and the development of feminism?
PhD supervised by Dr. Susannah Thomson, Dr. Marianne Greated, Dr. Laura Guy
This research comprehensively documents communication between second wave feminists in U.K. periodicals that were published primarily for circulation within the Women’s Liberation Movement. Such periodicals include, but are not limited to: Trouble & Strife, Outwrite, WIRES, ILIS, Spare Rib, The Scottish Women’s Liberation Journal, MsPrint, Women’s Liberation News, Revolutionary/Radical Feminist Newsletter, and many more. I position secondwave feminist periodicals as a legitimate historical site for scholarly inquiry that allows for the telling of a messy and dynamic political movement. This project is rooted in the material site of the archive, and as such the sites of excavation are the Glasgow Women’s Library, the Feminist Archives North and South, and the Feminist Library in London. I am particularly interested in the development of a feminist networked communication infrastructure which allowed for the formation of a collective identity and set of political practices.
Feminist print culture historian Trysh Travis argues that the surge in women’s presses during the 70s and 80s was “an attempt by a group of allied practitioners to create an alternative communications circuit — a women-centred network of readers and writers, editors, printers, publishers, distributors, and retailers through whom ideas, objects and practices flowed in a continuous and dynamic loop.”[ii] Women’s presses, bookstores and libraries were not intended to exist as isolated institutions but to facilitate a dialogue of knowledge and production amongst a larger network of women. Resistance to male-dominated modes of production was the raison d’être of most women’s publishing and readerships during the second wave.
Feminist print culture of the secondwave engendered an infrastructure of a decentralized collectivity, leading to a network of printed communication. Such an infrastructure allowed women to find each other through reading and writing, and despite their differences, acknowledging what unites them and supporting a shared vision of a feminist future. My PhD will document and preserve this history, while also challenging any homogenised or flattening characterisation of secondwave feminism.
You can follow my day-to-day archival research on Instagram @frauenkultur
[i] Victoria Bazin and Melanie Waters, “Mediated and Mediating Feminisms: Periodical Culture from Suffrage to the Second Wave,” Women: A Cultural Review 24, no. 7 (2017): 350.
[ii] Travis, Trysh. “The Women in Print Movement: History and Implications.” Johns Hopkins University Press: Book History, Volume 11, 2008, pp. 275-300.