Beins, Agatha

Job Placement: Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Texas Woman’s University
Webpage: http://www.twu.edu/ws/beins.asp
Committee: J. Regulska, H. Davidson, N. Hewitt
Dissertation: Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves: Locating U.S. Feminism through Feminist Periodicals, 1970-1983

Bio

Agatha Beins received a B.A. in Classical Languages from Carleton College, an M.A. in Women’s Studies from University of Arizona, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Poetry from Eastern Washington University. She completed her PhD in 2011, and accepted a tenure-track position at the Texas Woman's University. Agatha is a co-editor of the anthology Women's Studies for the Future. Her dissertation explored the production and consumption of U.S. feminist periodicals published in the 1970s.

Abstract

In 1968 the first feminist periodicals associated with the second wave of U.S. feminism appeared in the United States, and by 1973 over five hundred different feminist newsletters, newspapers, and literary journals had been published. Although these periodicals often had erratic publication schedules and rarely ran more than a few years, their proliferation during this time period shows that publishing was vital to the women’s liberation movement. Not only did periodicals create a space for women to describe experiences, develop theories, debate politics, and exchange ideas, they also connected women through their circulation, producing an imagined community of feminists at local and global scales. Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves: Locating U.S. Feminism through Feminist Periodicals, 1970-1983 examines the U.S. feminist movement through the production and consumption of feminist newsletters and newspapers. Focusing on periodicals published in five cities (New Orleans, Louisiana; Northampton, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Iowa City, Iowa; and Los Angeles, California), this dissertation tracks the circulation of ideas to explore how feminism as a collective identity was produced and reproduced. Based on archival research throughout the country and an analysis of the circulation and repetition of language and images as well as on the effects of modes of periodical production, this dissertation draws from a wide range of literatures, including history, sociology, geography, cultural studies, visual studies, and history of the book, as well as from feminist theories about power and identity. I argue that during the 1970s feminist periodicals were vital to the production not just of feminism’s present and presence but also of feminism’s past and future. Periodicals additionally contributed to the discursive and material existence of the women’s liberation movement, allowing feminism’s past, present, and future to be imaginable as well as physically locatable.