Welcome to the third issue of the Journal of Feminist Scholarship, in which we are pleased to offer a broad range of articles that branch out into new territories—a historical and literary discussion of first-wave Irish American feminists, a unique take on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and its applicability to virtual spaces of the twenty-first century, an exploration of the benefits Black feminist ethnography brings to the field of legislative studies, and a study of agency and complicity in transnational feminist location politics. Once again, the articles featured in this issue represent the diversity of feminist inquiry across the disciplines.
In “Questioning Appropriation: Agency and Complicity in a Transnational Feminist Location Politics,” Joe Parker offers an account of a transnational feminist location politics that produces and stimulates an agency of feminist resistance in lieu of perpetuating established divisions of self and Other as a naturalized ground for political work. Parker does not accept a binary separation between agency and complicity, which in his view makes the political stakes of their effective imbrication difficult if not impossible to interrogate. Relying on a Foucauldian interpretation of agency and on the writings of such theorists of transnational feminist politics as Gayatri Spivak, Meyda Yeğenoğlu, and Chandra Mohanty, Parker strives to articulate conditions of possibility for “building social movements that acknowledge difference within the subject or the movement rather than deny and expel their Others.”
Nadia Brown, in “Negotiating the Insider/Outsider Status: Black Feminist Ethnography and Legislative Studies,” explores how her “insider” identity as a Black woman figured as a decisive factor in the course of her fieldwork on Black women legislators in Maryland. The information Brown obtained, the contexts within which information was offered to her, as well as the amount and forms of her access to information were all mediated through the prism of her and her interlocutors’ social identity. As the author argues, the reflexivity valued in feminist ethnography can benefit the field of legislative studies, particularly with regard to a reflexive understanding of identity as a factor in the acquisition of knowledge about political phenomena.
Tegan Zimmerman, in “The Politics of Writing, Writing Politics: Virginia Woolf’s A [Virtual] Room of One’s Own,” argues that Woolf’s privileging of materiality remains distinctly relevant today, insofar as it can inform and further our understanding of virtual space in relation to women’s online and offline writing. Cyberspace, Zimmerman suggests, which is accessible throughout the world, offers women today opportunities to gain visibility and a political voice that they might not otherwise be able to develop. At the same time, material inequality, so salient in Woolf’s time (between men and women, and among women of different classes, races, and ethnicities), remains real in the globalized twenty-first-century economy and in the virtual spaces Zimmerman surveys, reinforcing the urgent need for “e-feminist” interventions.
In “Irish American Women: Forgotten First-Wave Feminists,” Sally Barr Ebest offers a survey and analysis of first-wave feminism as seen in the lives and works of Irish American writers and activists between the 1830s and 1960s. This historical discussion documents what Ebest argues have been the overlooked contributions of Irish American women to the struggle for women’s rights in the United States, particularly in the distinct but overlapping spheres of political activism, journalism, and literature. Ultimately, Ebest concludes that first-wave Irish American feminists deserve further recognition and discussion as they represent collectively the “first and largest group of American feminists.”
The “Viewpoint” article continues our tradition of providing space for discussion and commentary on feminist scholarship and engagement. Jill R. Williams’s contribution to this series, “Caught between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Title IX Generation, Mathematics, and the State of Feminist Quantitative Social Science Research,” reflects upon the fortieth anniversary of Title IX from a perspective that is both personal and academic. Specifically, Williams argues that more support is needed in the academy for feminist training in quantitative research methods, particularly in the area of demography. As she asserts, creating intellectual spaces for feminist quantitative work and advocating for its greater recognition in the field of women’s studies and beyond will in turn help us draw out and use our strengths in varying ways as feminists.