The Scholar and The Feminist III: The Search for Origins, 1975

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THE SCHOLAR AND THE FEMINIST III: THE SEARCH FOR ORIGINS

On Saturday, April 10, 1976, the Barnard College women's Center will sponsor the third in a series of conferences on The Scholar and The Feminist. As their common title indicates, the conferences have addressed the current and difficult question: How does the feminist scholar per- ceive and pursue her research? In particular, how does she connect the convictions she holds as a feminist to the particular work she carries out as a scholar within the intellectual community?

Background

For our first conference, The Scholar and The Feminist (May 11, 1974), we invited twelve scholars from widely different disciplines to speak about their own intellectual biographies in the context of their current research. What had been the impact of feminism on their interests, their goals, and their identity as scholars? Their answers covered a wide range of opinions and experiences, from highly personal and individual ac- counts to universal and moving statements about the life and the work of the feminist scholar.

By the time of our second conference, The Scholar and The Feminist II: Toward New Criteria of Relevance, (April 12, 1975), the number of scholars who identified themselves as feminists was continuing to grow. New journals devoting themselves to feminist scholarship were springing up. It was evident that in many different disciplines, feminists were beginning to have an impact on traditional methodologies. This conference, then, spoke to the issue: What kinds of changes does feminism bring to the conduct of scholarship? The two morning speakers addressed the new kinds of questions raised by feminist scholars, the new data that feminist schol- ars were uncovering, the new assumptions that they were applying to old data, and the new concepts that feminist thinkers were bringing to tradi- tional fields.

The Scholar and The Feminist III

By this year, substantial work was appearing in professional jour- nals as well as journals specializing in feminist studies and in collec- tions of work devoted specifically to the feminist perspective within given disciplines. The feminist scholar was making herself visible, and we wanted to plan a conference that took a closer look at some of the work now being produced in such abundance.

As we began to think about this year's conference, we were struck by a phenomenon which was by no means characteristic of all feminist scholar- ship but certainly a common feature of much current work, namely, the im- pulse toward "trans—disciplinary" work, i.e., work that goes outside the boundaries of the traditional disciplines. At first, we decided to con-

centrate on this phenomenon. Our tentative title was, "Crossing Boundaries:

Some Interdisciplinary Implications of Feminism." But as we explored this possibility, we noticed several things. In the first place, not all femi- nist scholars are doing interdisciplinary work. In fact, most of them are