The Feminist Scholars Digital Workshop was an unexpectedly remarkable event! It’s rare that one gets a chance to receive sustained feedback on one’s work, and such opportunities have become increasingly rare, at least for me. I was part of a feminist reading group for several years in graduate school, and also part of a fairly short lived dissertation support group, but it has been a good long while since I have engaged with a few like-minded scholars this way. While one often gets review notes during the process of journal article submission (and review and publication) and this can be very valuable, but the FSDW also mitigated some of the limitations of that process.
For instance, when submitting to a journal, the piece is (ostensibly) finished and the review process is often very drawn out making it difficult to plan for, and implement revisions. Indeed, even finding appropriate reviewers can also be challenging proposition in these times of sweeping technological change and the concomitant shifts and changes in disciplinary boundaries. And blind review carries its own problems in terms of transparency and responsibility, both of which impact the quality of the remarks given.
The FSDW, by contrast, offered opportunities for rich feedback that, in my experiences, was insightful, generous and very productive. The peer groups seemed to be just the right size: the work wasn’t overwhelming in terms of reviewing others, and the comments weren’t so numerous that they became onerous to consider and implement. My group did not make comments private: e.g. we used attachments and that lived in a Google Drive folder and then added a new copy with our notes. This gave just enough transparency while still feeling like a safe space. Further, although participants were from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, the feminist mindset gave us a type of glue that rendered this diversity rich rather than incoherent. I anticipate some collaborations emerging from this event which has been an unexpected bonus.
The time component was equally beneficial with the perfect balance of structure and flexibility. The constraint of a single week ensured timely participation but within that, it was wonderful to have the ability to do two reviews one day, when my schedule on another got utterly jammed. The recommended timeline was perfect, as were the other organizational components.
In short, hats off to the organizers, to HASTAC and to all the participants (special nod to my group)! I very much look forward to next year’s event.