Tuesday, April 9, 2013

handout seventeenth-century Quaker women

#1: Christopher Hill: Things were much more blurred
“The revolt within the Revolution which is my subject took many forms, some better known than others....Indeed it is perhaps misleading to differentiate too sharply between politics, religion and general skepticism. We know, as a result of hindsight, that some groups -- Baptists, Quakers -- will survive as religious sects and that most of the others will disappear. In consequence we unconsciously tend to impose too clear outlines on the early history of English sects, to read back later beliefs into the 1640s and 50s. One of the aims of this book will be to suggest that in this period things were much more blurred. From, say, 1645 to 1653, there was a great overturning, questioning, revaluing, of everything in England. Old institutions, old beliefs, old values came in question. Men moved easily from one critical group to another, and a Quaker of the early 1650s had far more in common with a Leveller, a Digger or a Ranter than with a modern member of the Society of Friends.”
-- The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (New York: Penguin, 1972, 1975), 14.

#2: Bell, Parfitt and Shepherd: Quaker supervision of printing
“Whereas in the early Quaker period access to printing was organized locally by enthusiastic individuals, the post-Restoration establishment of a hierarchical organization led to close co-ordination and centralised supervision. In the 1650s women such as Priscilla Cotton, Mary Cole, Rebeckah Travers and Martha Simmonds wrote and published as and when they chose....[But] No work has been yet done to establish how [this later system of supervision] may have affected, perhaps disproportionately, women Friends, whose early enthusiasm, enactments of signs and wonders, and opposition to the increasingly male leadership and its organizational forms tended to alienate them from [George] Fox [the usually acknowledged founder of Quakerism]....”
--Maureen Bell, George Parfitt, and Simon Shepherd, A Biographical Dictionary of English Women Writers, 1580-1720 (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990) 285-6.

#3: D.W. [Dorothy White]: Millenarianism published
“And now is the last Trumpet sounded, and an Alarm is given from the Lord God Almighty, proclaiming the Day of Restoration and of mighty Salvation, and of glad-tydings unto the poor and meek of the Earth. I will blow the Trumpet of the Lord God Almighty over all Mountains; O let the Heavens rejoyce and sing, for He is come who doth glad-tydings bring, whose Glory is broken-forth, and the Heavens cannot contain it, but the Earth must hear the sound of the holy Day, and the dawning thereof expelleth the mist of the cloudy night which hath been over the Nations, and the Lord is rending the Vail of the Temple in sunder from the top to the bottom, and he is rolling away the Stone from the door of the Sepulchre where the Lord JESUS hath been laid....You Branches of the true Vine, you Spouses of the Beloved, you Daughters of Sion and Sons of Jacob, rejoyce and sing you Virgins and Followers of the Lamb.... Oh! Rejoyce forever, and sing Hallalujahs and Praises unto the God of Power, from whom this is sent and Published; and in his Dominion and Authority I do send it forth, being faithful unto what the Lord hath intrusted me with; I do not with-hold but I freely let it go: So in the Spirit of Life, and Love, and Eternal Peace, I salute all the Faithful in Heart, and in the Union of the holy Life, I bid you all Farewel./ [signed] D.W.”
--A Trumpet of the Lord of Hosts (London: “Published by me, D.W.,” 1662) [Huntington Library #94165] 5-7. See also Mary Garman and others, Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women’s Writings, 1650-1700 (Wallingford, Pennsylvania: Pendle HIll, 1996)137-148.

#4: E.B. [Edward Burrough]: Going naked as a sign
“The first day of the seventh month a Friend suffered some persecution in and near Smithfield in the Fair-time, who was moved to go through the Fair naked, with a pan on his head full of fire and brimestone, flaming up in the sight of the people, crying repentance among them, and bad them remember Sodom, &c. for which some rude people did abuse him much, and took him to an Officer, but he was not committed to Prison, but the Lord delivered him out of their hands.
     About the 7th day of the month two Women were committed to Old Bridewel, for going into Pauls in the time of their worship; she one of them being moved to go at that very time into that place vvith her face made black, and her hair dovvn vviwth blood poured in it, vvhich run dovvn upon her sackcloth vvhich she had on, and she poured also some blood dovvn upon the Altar, and spoke some vvords, and another Woman being moved to go along vvith her, they vvere both taken avvay to Bridwel, vvhere they remain to this day, and vvere not yet tried for any fact, nor any evil yet justly laid to their charge.”
-- from a transcribed letter signed E.B. [Edward Burrough] in [George Fox], A brief relation of the persecutions and cruelties that have been acted upon the people called Quakers (London: “printed in the year 1662.”) [Huntington Library, #94153] 5.

#5: Phyllis Mack: polymorphous spiritual nuture and eroticism
“Francis Howgill poured himself out to George Fox: ‘I am melted I am melted with thy love it is not lawful to utter, pray for me thy dear son begotten to an inheritance incorruptable....Farewell for evermore my beloved one, [addressed] To him who is invisible out of time.’ Elizabeth Morgan wrote to Margaret Fell with the same ardor: “Fair art thou as the noon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners...thy presence to me is life, joy and peace is on they right hand and on thy left pleasure forever more thy love is better than wine yea more precious to me than life.’”
--Visionary Women: Ecstatic Prophecy in Seventeenth-Century England (Berkeley: U California,1992) 156. Mack’s footenote: “Francis Howgill to G[eorge] F[ox], 1655, A.R. Barclay Collection, reprinted in Journal of the Friends Historical Society 48 (1956) 93; and Eliz[abeth] Morgan to M[argaret] F[ell] from prison in Cambridge, sent from Chester, Nov. 9, 1654, Swarthmore Manuscripts, 1/192 (II, 339). The letter was also signed by Richard Hubberthorne and James Parnell.” Mack gives examples from men to women as well.

#6: Cotton, Cole and Burrough: Women speaking in church
    “Now the woman or weakness, that is man, which is his best estate or greatest wisdom is altogether vanity, that must be covered with the covering of the Spirit...that its nakedness may not appear....Here mayst thou see...that the woman or weakness whether male or female, is forbidden to speak in the Church;...Indeed you yourselves are the women, that are forbidden to speak in the church, that are become women.”
--Priscilla Cotton and Mary Cole, To the Priests and People of England (London: For Giles Calvert, 1655) 7-8.
    “Let...[the Word] dwell richly in you, which will cut down, and wholly root out the whorish Wo-man within your selves, which is not permitted to speak in the Church,...O that the Clamberer, the Thief, and the Robber...from which the Wo-man, the unprofitable talker, the vain babbler, boasts....O Male and Female-man, wherefore keep thine to within, in thy Head, and the Head of every man is Christ Jesus:”
--Edward Burrough, An Alarm to all Flesh (London: For Robert Wilson, 1660) 7-8.
Both quoted by Phyllis Mack in “Gender and Spirituality in Early English Quakerism, 1650-1665,” in Witnesses for Change: Quaker Women over Three Centuries, eds. Elisabeth Potts Brown and Susan Mosher Stuard (New Brunswick: Rutgers, 1989) 48-9.

#7: Tace Sowle: major publisher of 17th c. Nonconformist women writers:
“For seventeenth-century women writers in particular, the importance of having access to the Quaker publishing “support system” may be surmised from the fact that Quaker women produced twice as many printed editions as any other female group. The Sowle press printed more than one hundred works by at least fourteen different women writers.”
--Paula McDowell, “Tace Sowle,” The British Literary Book Trade, 1475-1700, eds. James Bracken and Joel Silver (Briccoli Clark Layman, 1996) 256.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Feminist 'Writing' Technologies: Ecologies, narratives, categories

a talk presented to the Center for the Study of Women, Science, & Technology
and the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology,
10 April 2001

Katie King
Women's Studies, University of Maryland, College Park

Being explicit about and conscious of the practices of interdisciplinary work has recently become inescapable as my women's studies department has started a new Ph.D. program. All our collective understandings and misunderstandings are brought to the fore as we negotiate the structure of the curriculum including new courses, and the rituals of competency such as exams. Individual meanings around interdisciplinary work and its various trainings sometimes overlap, sometimes seem incommensurate. Our experiences with interdisciplinary work are so various that it is hard to escape the knowledge that the word doesn't refer to something we all agree upon. Many different "interdisciplinarities" are referred to under this one term, which even individually we use multiply, each version jockeying for position as what some call "true interdisciplinarity." This is happening not just within my department, but within the fields of women's studies, as we are by no means the only folks in this position. Other women's studies Ph.D. programs are quite recent, just begun, others just beginning as we are, and still others about to begin, both in the U.S. and internationally. It's all too new for there to be much consensus yet in this classification work; indeed I might argue that these tensions and creativities and their very incommensurabilities are powerfully productive. It is out of such local meanings within political and institutional struggles, always requiring problematic translations across communities of practice, always engaging in new classification work, that we come to recognize new methods coming-into-being under the sign of this word "interdisciplinary." No generation of feminists can claim mastery or ownership of new ways of thinking about thinking, nor can any academic disciplines or political theories, nor can any national academies. Such methods and theoretical productions enable new translations, new visionary reframings of contemporary geopolitical realities.

The interdisciplinary field that I discover, identify and create I have been calling since 1986 "Feminism and Writing Technologies." Feminism and writing technologies situates the history of the book and its archival interests, the study and practices of oral and print cultures, the creation and study of new cybercultures, and the feminist investigations of technosciences, all together as perspectives each upon the other, as practices each producing the others, as modes of critique and as forms of everyday life. In my university workplace--department, college and campus--being able to name your research area is important, even important in a women's studies department for even there researchers have often been trained in disciplinary fields. Something brief, easily identifiable, and locatable in relation to a discipline or recognized interdiscipline is preferred. "Feminism and writing technologies" never fills these requirements.

A field full of questions and questioning, working in feminism and writing technologies requires one to ask: What are the politics of making distinctions between the oral and the written? That is to say, what movements of power are involved? What assumptions are made? That orality is one thing? That such distinctions are self-evident? That there are single pivotal historical divides? That  these ideal categories exist in the world? Whose "revolutions" are the alphabet, literacy, printing or the internet? Global conceptual categories are interrogated by local material practices, but what counts as local? What counts as the material? the practical? the global? Assumption after assumption is necessarily excavated in feminism and writing technologies, each such assumption moving power in particular ways. Excavating such assumptions instead points to alternative pasts, alternative materialities, alternative contemporary possibilities, alternative movements of power. How to convey to students, to fellow cultural workers (such as my colleagues in women's studies, and other cultural critics across and through the borders of my workplace, a university)--how to convey the pivotal importance of asking such questions and excavating such assumptions today? The importance of broadening the historical and cultural frameworks of engagement so as to contest for all these deeply political meanings and materialities? How to understand this process as modes of critique, forms of everyday life and what feminist technoscience theorists call "working relations"?

As I conceptualize it the field of feminism and writing technologies includes histories of specific technologies, such as internet, satellite TV and other interpenetrating communications infrastructures; printing, xeroxing and other forms of reproduction; computers, book wheels, codex and other linking devices; alphabets, chirographs, sound and video recording and other forms of inscription; pencils, typewriters and other marking implements; paper, screen and other surfaces of display; epic poetry, telenovelas and other formalized oralities; pictographs, web sites and other artifacts of visual culture. It also includes the methods by which such technologies are studied in the academy and understood in everyday life: the working relations of technologies-in-use, including the formal and popular technologies of knowledge-making, if you will. It is feminism--theory and activism--that offers the ways of thinking about power investigating such methods. "Writing" in this sense comprehends its largest meaning: it participates in oralities, rather than becoming their opposite. It stresses meaning-making in many cultural forms; it stresses social processes that are momentarily stabilized in human devices. And "technologies" here are not just the latest machines for sale, or the instruments and infrastructures of science, but the cultural refinements of skills and tools, extensions of human bodies and minds with which we and the world are continually reshaping in complex interconnecting agencies. (These agencies I call "intra-actions" following feminist physicist Karen Barad.) "Writing technologies" are the objects of study, but "writing" technologies is also the process of engaging these objects.

As a very junior faculty member participating in a women's studies faculty study group in the mid 80's, when I tried to explain that I was investigating the politics of making distinctions between what has been called "the oral" and "the written," a more senior historian impatiently insisted, "Something just is oral or written!" Although each feminist there cared about and taught the importance of denaturalizing cultural categories feminists critiqued, to no one was it obvious that orality and literacy were variations on nature and culture. As a postdoc in another university a friendly feminist colleague laughed when I said that "feminism and writing technologies" was a field I had to both recognize and invent, saying "You can't invent fields!" This from a person in the still relatively recently created field of "Women's Studies." Disciplines and new disciplinary formations depend on the naturalization of pivotal objects and on classification work. (Bowker & Star 1999) Questioning such objects, including categories, and the processes of naturalization within such communities of practice at best makes you look naive, at worst (in a university) makes you appear ignorant. Although I remembered very clearly these same reactions during the creation of the field of women's studies, others had not experienced them or had forgotten them, or simply thought that this analogy was irrelevant.

I've taken this language of objects, classification work, naturalization and communities of practice from a new book by Leigh Star and Geoff Bowker called Sorting Things Out: Classification and its consequences. (1999 MIT) I've found this book and its apparatus very useful for thinking both about technological infrastructures and about intellectual ones. Taken together investigations of these infrastructures constitute that process I call "writing" technologies. Ecologies, narratives and categories are all implicated in this process. I hope today to give you a taste of how this is so, using materials from my research as examples and as points of discussion. For the first half of my time I will speak to the issues raised by thinking of feminism and writing technologies as a field, what kind of work it does. Then in the second half of the talk, I will offer an analysis from one of my research projects as an example of some of this work. Think of the conditions of this talk too as another example, one about the problematic work of translation across many fields of practice. I can't do all the translation work required. You will have to take up a considerable part of it, imaginatively entering into sites you ordinarily wouldn't visit, or generously catching the spirit of a discussion of something you know only too well and in more detail. All of us together will thus be modeling the movement of intellectual objects across communities of practice, engaging in the articulation work that is required to make sense of such movement. I ask you to do the work of noticing what assumptions within your communities of practice become visible as they are violated.

Years ago my friend Sharon Traweek told me a story about a talk she gave early in the course of her interdisciplinary research. Her work uses anthropological methods to look at the histories and practices within various cultures of particle physicists. Many of the folks in her audience were themselves particle physicists and she was nervous about what they would think of her representations of them and their work. After her talk one man got up and said in a puzzled way: "Well, what you've said is all true. The only thing I don't understand is that you talk about It all as if it all could have been some other way." For feminists projects that involve denaturalizing objects and ideas-as-objects are important precisely because then we can explore how things could be some other way. Donna Haraway puts it hauntingly: "...the point is to learn to remember that we might have been otherwise, and might yet be...."

Right now I'm working on the draft of my next book An Introduction to Feminism and Writing Technologies. Years ago I decided that I needed to create some "case studies" in order to demonstrate how the theoretical apparatus I was developing could be useful to folks in various fields. I ended up looking closely at what I now call "writing technology ecologies," focusing on two very specific and deliberately very different ones. (Indeed, to some people they seem so incongruous that they just have to laugh! I often laugh at them myself. Sometimes laughter is a sign that assumptions are being violated.) Let me briefly name them incongruously, and then explain them a little bit more, so that perhaps their sense will be more obvious. One case study is about 17th c. Quaker women's writing on women's public speech. The other is about contemporary fan fiction of the TV shows Xena and Highlander. Let me explain them a little bit.

17th c. Quaker women's "writings"--in that larger sense of writing I mentioned earlier, one that participates in oralities rather than excluding them--include prophetic speech, performing religious dramatic enactments including Quaker silence, and traveling in the ministry as yoke-mates; include materials written out and circulated in manuscript, a particular publishing practice of the time; and also include materials meant to be circulated in print, usually illegally. One pivotal print shop out of which Quaker writings were published was owned and operated by a woman printer. Quakers called all of this "publishing truth" within their own time period's complex writing technology ecology, an ecology in which gender, the politics of religion, class and nationality, and representations of sexuality all figure as movements of power. Since this is a historical case study another writing technology ecology also figures however: that larger one across time, in which a range of re-representations of these Quaker women by interested groups today also figures. Some of these groups are: contemporary Quakers who see these 17th c. women as emblems to heal splits in Quakerism today; academic and amateur historians of sexuality who interrogate their travels in pairs, wondering what possible relations to contemporary lesbianisms are indicated; historians of religion and theology as well as women pastors, who place these women into new gender sensitive mappings of women and religion; and feminist historians and literary and cultural critics who consider how to make these writings intelligible within shifting histories of women and cultural production. Assumptions about print culture and its relation to oralities, cursory namings of past writing technology "revolutions" and their meanings, and relations of technology and cultural and literary production are all questioned in this case study.

The other case study examines the ecologies of global television "writings"--again in that expanded meaning of writing, including a wide range of forms of inscription. Such writings range from female fans writing their own so-called "slash" sexual interventions into international heterosexualities and circulating them in xerox publication and on the Web, to mainstream international tv circulations of sexual and gender images in niche marketing forms and multicultural ambiguities--all within processes of globalization, neoliberal economic policies, new global communications infrastructures, and formal and informal processes of knowledge-making. TV is the global sign for a fascinating set of technologies that complicates a range of assumptions people bring to the phrase "writing technologies." At first glance it may even seem rather silly to call the various TV technologies writing technologies, especially to those who privilege a particular version of inscription as "writing" and for whom writing is the very opposite of the aural and the photographic. But even for those who resist the largest meanings of writing technologies--that is, as particular formalized processes of meaning-making embodied in specific cultural skills and devices--even for them, a second look in this age of WebTV may give them pause. Satellite and cable television are converging with telephone, computer and internet technologies in ways that only this largest meaning of writing can apprehend. These convergences are explicitly commercial, political and technological in ways that are highly visible right now. This makes TV an extremely interesting example for description and analysis, one that calls upon and creates new intuitions about writing technologies. In the second half of this talk, I will draw upon this TV research.

Both of these case studies explore lesbian and gay historiography and art activisms. Both situate us in a position to ask why we should call literary materials and other cultural productions technology. Specific momentary skills and devices--for example, the hand-held e-book today--are conflations of local materialities on the one hand, and global relations protected and connected to other skills and devices under global signs, such as "the Book," on the other. Taking apart these global signs in order to examine local materialities and other global (including historical) relationships is one task of feminism and writing technologies. Literature is one powerful global sign under which writing technologies are conflated, universalized, and decontextualized. Inspecting literary materialities is a method for taking apart literature as such a global sign and understanding its protected relationships to other skills, devices and signs. Thus, understanding literary materials and other cultural productions as technology, as cultural refinements of skills and tools in historical flux, is the first method in feminism and writing technologies.

Thinking about the technologies of literary practice opens up cultural production to new inspections of contemporary uses and meanings. Public alarms about education generally and the status of its culturally hallowed symbol, the Book, are powerful forms of public engagement today. Cultural products understood traditionally as literature or the arts--such as poetry, novel, essay, drama, sermon, letter, memoir, biography, painting, sculpture, dance--are joined by other cultural products, overlappingly understood as popular culture, as high art, and as commodities delivered technologically, such as documentary film, video game, TV series, magazine ad, guerrilla theater, graffiti, environmental installation, public mural, internet discussion group and web site. Contemporary forms of cultural production create interference patterns upon the symbolic resonance field of author-text-reader (or producer-object-consumer; or production-distribution-consumption). Such idealized a priori categories break down with the examination of new cultural products, are revealed as historically and culturally specific forms of protected relationship, and turn out to obscure as well as illuminate usable pasts and presents. Literary and intellectual properties are in unsettling flux. While a future of "content-providers" rather than authors is one bleak vision mobilized by the relentless commodification of every new technology, the very instabilities of productive agencies that multinational capital is attempting to manage and exploit, may be more interesting than it yet appears. That is, may be so if feminism engages with such writing technologies of these possible presents, as well as with altering our shaping of usable pasts.

For example, the field of women's writing has generally focused upon the literary works of the last three centuries, with exceptional authors and texts surfacing only occasionally in earlier periods. This is because literacy has been understood as the limiting horizon of writing by women, and authors to be the necessary originators of visible works, cultural processes, and literary intelligibility. But shift the terms of value and the kinds of cultural productions that count, and far richer worlds of relationship among women and culture become intelligible and important. Feminism and writing technologies is a lens into those richer worlds. As we contemplate useable pasts, we note, for example, that women readers and collectors of books emerge as gatekeepers, facilitators and patrons of literary culture. Ballad hawkers and retellers' acts of sedition and improvisation are recognized, documented in court and prison records. Women printers and preachers participate in political and religious public life. Commonplace books and cookbooks, women as collators and copyists; prayers, visions and songs, women as visionaries and troubadours; manuscript publication and circulation, women as intellectuals and colleagues; signatures and personal marks on public petitions, women as citizens and historical agents; thus multiple objects and multiple agencies characterize how feminism and writing technologies looks to and creates usable pasts. Both in these alternative pasts and today in alternative presents, where authorship is not understood as the only or even the most important productive agency, but one of many in material systems of writing technologies, enlivened realities are made visible. These are writing technology ecologies of interdependent parts, under specific historical regimes of power. Functionality of such ecologies is not the point of understanding their systems, but rather how they reveal materializing social change and cultural forms in flux.

Feminism and Writing Technologies highlights particular threads of interconnection among the natural and social sciences and the humanities. It interrogates and has interests and histories in threads through all of them, through their academic instantiations, objects of knowledge and methods, and also threading through their uses and meanings in everyday life as writing technologies. Caught up in the struggles for resources and authority in academic and state institutions, those in the humanities have been constrained to emphasize their separations and distinctiveness from the natural and social sciences, an ideological tradition shot through historically with meanings of class and privilege, and appeals to character, religion, morality and nation. Feminism and Writing Technologies suggests that the "writings" of the humanities, are always already "technologies." That the competition for resources that current institutional arrangements foster obscures the equally real interconnections among the natural and social sciences and the humanities (or within and between the natural and human "sciences"). It suggests that it is these interconnections that are what matter today in reconfigurations of knowledge and knowledge institutions. Indeed, it suggests that what are needed are new educational institutionalizations and new classifications that foster our apprehension of these interconnections and that limit the kinds of competition for resources that misleadingly overemphasize their separations in the course of urging status hierarchies among them. And finally, Feminism and Writing Technologies requires that such global disciplinary and interdisciplinary categories be interrogated by the kinds of interventions in knowledge construction feminism has undertaken in the academy, interventions that emphasize accountability in the making of knowledge, rather than efficiency in the production of knowledge workers. Writing technologies defined expansively can be the heartening entry way into the technologies / technics of knowledge production in the natural and human sciences. Feminism and Writing Technologies enlivens the understanding and participation in such knowledge production through historical and cultural perspectives that center human and other natural agencies complexly intertwined. Humanism, humanistic inquiry, the humanities and human agency are culturally and historically contextualized, engaged and interrogated. These are the stakes that a reconfiguring humanities has in Feminism and Writing Technologies: for scientists, social scientists and humanists all to be educated to grasp current technological and social change in perspective, to learn comparisons, cultural and historic, that illuminate what sorts of powers are shifting, embodied in the technologies of arts, science and culture altering before us.

Let me turn now to my second case study, and talk to you today a bit about the television show Xena, now in its sixth year of production. Xena, and its twin TV show Hercules, are U.S. shows filmed and produced in New Zealand. Like the clothes we wear in the U.S. today, much of the food we eat, the electronics equipment we love, TV and some other culture industries are "off-shored" to reduce production costs and to increase control over labor--that is to say, people-- elements in global divisions of labor that characterize this moment in history. It is this moment in history that I use the term "postmodern" to describe, and it is not unconnected with another term, "postcolonial," which like it is complexly shot through with terror and possibility. Xena plays to global audiences, which was not at all anticipated by the producers who originated the show for U.S. consumption but during its first year immediately capitalized upon these unanticipated markets. The structural effects of global conditions of production have something to do with the show's appeal to global audiences--for example, some visual and verbal allusions and references to non-U.S. centered jokes and other cultural elements. But the common wisdom in Hollywood is that it is genre, the kind of narrative, that matters the most in TV that travels globally, especially action-adventure stories that are visually stimulating and rely less on subtle verbal interaction. Within the U.S. Xena is less famous for its global range of audiences than for its ambiguities of sexuality, but there are structural similarities in these multiple possibilities of narrative. I'm very interested in TV that is ambi-sexual, ambi-ethnic and ambi-cultural and Xena is one example, and one of the few in which the producers and actors have publicly commented on these qualities and on their intentions and forms of production.

The term "niche markets" is usually used to describe commercial products made for specific local audiences, like rainbow jewelry for gay folks. But what we see in the TV show Xena is something similar but also taken to the next level of complexity in what I call "layers of locals and globals": a single global product intended for a contradictory nest of niche markets, some of whom may derive their cultural pleasures from this very "contradictory nesting." Despite the common wisdom of Hollywood that valorizes the simplicity of genre formula as globally attractive, another element, actually a complexity of address may also be attractive to specific audiences. Indeed such complexity of address and its multiple narratives may be the form of "consciousness" cultivated by such cultural products, a consciousness appropriate in a globalized world not only of world-wide divisions of labor and production, but also of migrating populations, of cultural mixings in a range of media, of newly invented traditionalisms, such as religious fundamentalism and ethnic identities, and of sexual and family arrangements altered by the shape of global capitalism. Individual producers and advertisers are not in control of, indeed barely grasp, the commercial implications of these tastes and forms of consciousness. Nor do cultural critics know what they will come to mean in the future, what their political effects will be however much we might suspect terrors, or however much we might long for possibilities.

As I suggested, some of the effects of global production itself are pleasurable: the backdrops of New Zealand providing settings unlike U.S. venues or Kiwi slang enlivening the other anachronistic postmodernisms of Xena's appropriations of many cultures' mythologies and histories. Global production itself becomes a spectacle bundled with the TV show. Actors as "stars" have always been part of this bundled package sold along with the film or TV product, and "behind the  scenes" elements of production that exploit the actors further have long been the stuff of fan interest. But it is more recent that intense interest is also focused on box office sales, the buying and selling of multinational corporations and stories about their owners and CEOs, the quoting of producers and writers about their intentions with the product, speculations about the political effects of the contents of stories, and so on, are also "bundled" with the product as items to be sold, in TV venues like Entertainment Tonight or supermarket magazines like Entertainment Weekly. Such concerns often were narrowly professional ones in the past, of importance mainly to folks in the industry and not also commodified and sold as they are increasingly today. And the fact that multinationals now encompass many forms of media makes for multiple Xena products: tie-in novels and paraphernalia like dolls, calendars, CDs, screensavers, and t-shirts, and alternate venues like web sites and conventions, and coffee table and companion documentary books telling the stories of production, listing episodes and their writers, and offering critical discussions, from fans, from journalists, and from academics. One might call such a proliferation of commercial products, especially those with an emphasis on the pleasures of commercial production itself "commercially exuberant."

For example, one pleasure associated with Xena is not immediately available upon viewing, a kind of semi-private, or perhaps, better, "special-public" element.  In Xena the final credits, which flash by more quickly than one can read, and which share the screen with upcoming episode trailers, are followed by disclaimers, one legal, one humorous. In one famous episode "Destiny," the production credits end with the following humorous disclaimer: "Julius Caesar was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, the Producers deny any responsibility for any unfortunate acts of betrayal causing some discomfort." These comic disclaimers are so embedded as to be hidden: I can't read them off the TV myself, and only can barely see them on "pause" or "slow" with my VCR. To get this one I raided the store of such carefully, even compulsively visioned sightings produced by fans at the Logomancy fan site on the Web. What wasn't harmed here was "Julius Caesar," the chronologically specific character in a play of anachronism, the emblem of Western Culture who parodies himself for us as he tells us in the episode that "Gaul is divided into three parts." In first season episodes other such Western authorities mocked but in disclaimer not harmed were "Unrelenting or Severely Punishing Deities," "Fathers, Spiritual or Biological," and "Males, Centaurs or Amazons," each of these poking fun at the kind of feminism displayed both subversively and often commercially in Xena.

It's not just that the producers make fun of possible objections to the violence of this episode of Xena when, after saying Caesar was not harmed, they also "deny any responsibility for any unfortunate acts of betrayal causing some discomfort." Here they also make fun of any fussy concerns about their recycled versions of myths, cultural traditions, and national histories. The humorous disclaimer on Xena includes as production pleasures, the credits and legalities, and the technologies of recovery, inside the spectacle. Indeed the obvious joke of this episode's disclaimer is that Julius Caesar is never hurt in the story--only Xena is hurt. His betrayals of her are both emotional and brutally physical. In the story line Caesar's mode of killing Xena is to crucify her: the Western cultural betrayal by the producers then being to elevate Xena to Christ-like status, and indeed to construct a story in which she too is resurrected, not just once, but twice. Note how the humorous ironies accustom and habituate viewers to casual movements from one level of abstraction to another, to sorting out easily those relative and relational shifts among levels of locals and globals involved in getting all the jokes against religion and tradition, and in playing one's proper market roles in a globalized economy. In TV Guide, in a little descriptive box alerting readers to elements of interest in TV episodes, another episode of Xena was highlighted as having angered Hindu fundamentalists in the similarly parodic use of Indian mythologies and religions. These very political and religious objections were commodified as a parodic element to be bundled with other production pleasures. Such parody of myth, religion and tradition is positioned in the TV show as feminist.

Female friendship is the most valued theme in the TV show, and is visually complicated and narratively explored in most episodes of Xena. Ways of expressing female friendship, love and the possibilities of sexuality among women are parallel threads of imagery, narrative, symbolism and humor, even while both Xena and her female companion Gabrielle have explicit male lovers in various episodes. What one might call audience and narrative polyphony--simultaneous appeals to more than one story line, each one pitched to a different niche market--allows for multiple interpretations of specific moments in pivotal episodes. Fans who explicitly see audience polyphony in production intentions, feel empowered to argue for their audience interests with producers and writers. For example, fans who enjoy sensual and sexual metaphors of female friendship, who are encouraged by the deliberate allusions to lesbian sexuality, refer to this recurrent element as "the subtext." They argue with writers and producers to make this narrative more explicit in the stories, and the producers have publicly both encouraged them and also insisted on ambiguous multiple possibilities. In the episode which follows "Destiny," called "The Quest," Xena and Gabrielle share a much hyped kiss, but one which simultaneously melds both the image of Xena and Gabrielle kissing and the image of Gabrielle and the man in whose body Xena's spirit has been sheltered, kissing. We see both possibilities on the TV screen, in swift parallel.

My favorite episode of Xena is elaborately allusive, even back to this episode internally. Some of the most complexly edited episodes of Xena are what are called "bottle episodes." Bottle episodes are created out of clips of previous shows, and intended to conserve production time and thus costs. Xena is now famous for its bottle episodes and for using this highly allusive episode form even in more expensive production intentions. One of my favorite episodes, similarly densely allusive, but not created out of clips from previous ones, is entitled "The Bitter Suite," that is, "Suite" spelled s-u-i-t-e." The trailer for this episode calls it "the most talked about episode of the season....an all musical adventure." And indeed many musical genres, most with TV versions, are sewn together and parodied in this show. Musically alluded to are both specific productions and generic forms; for example, there are several allusions to the Judy Garland film version of The Wizard of Oz, while there are also allusions to Gilbert and Sullivan, to nursery rhyme songs, to Broadway musicals, to classic films in the Ziegfeld Follies tradition, to old episodes of I Love Lucy making fun of operas, to country music, and so on. There are visual allusions to productions of Wagner's Ring cycle, to Busby Berkeley movies and to Las Vegas show productions.

[clip trailer] then [clip to Callisto's kiss]

Xena's recurrent enemy Callisto is both a figure and narrator in the complex dreamy Tarot game show structure of the episode, which is both very funny and surprisingly poignant and touching. A climax episode in a long story-arc, Xena and Gabrielle, have become enemies in the course of Callisto's manipulations. Each one has had a child, and Callisto has manipulated their children's deaths in such a way that each is in some way responsible for the death of the other's child. In the previous episode Xena and Gabrielle's friendship and love has become murderous hatred, hatred which is reviewed at the beginning of this one when Xena brutally attempts to kill Gabrielle. Both plunge into a waterfall and the swirling visuals suggest naked bodies undulating in the waters. Xena is awakened by Callisto's kiss, which recalls the moment of her climatic kiss with Gabrielle in the past. Callisto's mocking voice-over ironizes both kiss and episode title when she sings, "You taste it, how evil and good coexist; the Bitter and Sweet of it, all on the lips that you kissed." The episode elaborates how Xena and Gabrielle are painfully reconciled, and how important memory, betrayal and forgiveness are in friendship and in understandings of the self. Multiple ironies make it possible to interpret the episode emotionally, pop-psychologically, humorously, politically, mockingly, and in combinations of all of these. The emotional climax fades to a final scene of Xena and Gabrielle lying in each other's arms, engulfed by waves on a beach, in a momentary allusion to the famous erotic cinematic moment in the film From Here to Eternity--an allusion which is immediately defused by Xena and Gabrielle leaning back into the sand in hilarious laughter. Journalistic interviews of actors, writers and producers always emphasize this comic element of the shows and paint a picture of a production company having a great time making fun of it all. This "commercial exuberance" might be understood as the keynote of Xena, bundled together with its varying products, and always creating and coloring its forms of feminism.

[?clip of final scene & laughter?]

So to ambi-sexual, ambi-ethnic and ambi-cultural one can add ambi-feminist to Xena's multiple layers of locals and globals. Should this boil down essentially to cynical manipulation? While I do believe cynical manipulation is a piece of such audience polyphony, I also believe that to point to such manipulations does not exhaust this historical form of all of its meaning. I refer again to the kind of consciousness cultivated by such global products, created out of commercial intentions, but also out of conditions of global production, which create new pleasures and tastes. Indeed, able to engage world historical subjects now properly addressed complexly in a globalized world not only of world-wide divisions of labor and production, but also of migrating populations, cultural mixings, newly invented traditionalisms, and of proliferating forms of sexuality and family arrangements, all altered by the shape of global capitalism. The forms of feminism created in layers of locals and globals are structural as well as intentional, are necessarily extraordinarily various when properly international, and their political futures are yet to be actualized. My reasons for doing this kind of analysis of Xena is to focus on the layers of locals and globals that are the resources and forms of consciousness both created but also made available by what Chela Sandoval has called "the democratization of oppression" that characterizes the shifting powers of multi-capitalism. I believe that any new political movements, among them feminist and lesbian and gay human rights activisms, must be very sophisticated in their understandings of their own commodification within such layered global and local structures, as well as be risk-taking in their appropriations of pleasures, identities and political strategies. Feminism and writing technologies is a lens onto this kind of examination, "writing" technologies, engaging ecologies, narratives, and categories.

What Counts as an Archive? Women & Gender & Archivology

What Counts as an Archive? Women & Gender & Archivology. Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies Conference, "Attending to Early Modern Women: Gender, Culture, and Change," University of Maryland, College Park, 10 November 2000;

Workshop on Archivology

I'm Katie King and
I'm here to introduce this workshop:
What counts as an archive?
Women & Gender & Archivology

what we are going to do today:
1. my opening remarks
2. each person will speak to a few issues they raised in materials in the order named on your handouts
3. this will take 20ish mins. then we open for discussion in two parts, about 30ish mins a piece
4. first Sherman and Norbrook will facilitate discussion with an emphasis on archives. They are also collaborating on a course and projecting a possible research web site.
5. then Long and King will facilitate discussion with an emphasis on technologies. Long's material raised issues about what an archival web site on technology might look like, and King has begun a research web site on writing technology ecologies.
6. we have many agendas as you can tell from the materials we sent out. but this workshop time is really your time, and our job is actually to facilitate your exploration of the rich sets of issues that draw us together here. Feel free to intervene in lines of discussion, bring up your own issues and concerns, describe your own projects and classes, and synthesize what various speakers have addressed.

I was drafted to open our remarks because I was the one who persuaded these folks to come together for this workshop. Bill and I have long fantasized holding a conference on What Counts as an Archive since we both of us are fascinated by the practical and theoretical questions raised by a re-emphasis on archival work in particular areas of literary studies. I persuaded Bill and Bill and I persuaded David and Pam that this conference would be a great place to begin to discuss this question, between us, and especially with you. Changes in contemporary technologies may be altering What Counts as an Archive. Pam's work is on the history of technologies, and she has recently been working on a series of teaching pamphlets, one of which focuses on women's roles in technological histories. I do work in a field I call feminism and writing technologies and I'm concerned about how contemporary technologies alter our access to and constructions of various pasts. David and Bill are both early modern literary historical scholars who have long engaged in archival work, David now addressing the work of Lucy Hutchinson, a republican woman whose person and work raise issues about women and publication. Bill's work has long examined early modern archives, and he raises questions about both how early modern women and men structure their archives and tools, and how our archives and tools shape our understandings of them and theirs.

Bill has named some of our largest questions as:
Again and fundamentally, What counts as an Archive?
What is included within it, or visible in it?
And particularly Who has access to it? These questions will reverberate through all the points we raise individually.


As part of a short book, An Introduction to Feminism and Writing Technologies, I've begun to create a web site to display and analyze what I call "writing technology ecologies." Such ecologies are intended to show how various forms of communication interconnect and interact within fields of power in particular times and places. This first site I've begun focuses on the idea of the 17th c. printshop, but I have in mind the very specific printshop where some of the Quaker women's pamphlets I study were printed. Some of the work done by women in the past is rendered invisible by our contemporary assumptions about the meanings of male domination of craft production. Indeed, such work by women was probably visible and invisible at the time too, according to assumptions and institutionalizations of guild governance and social order locally. Nonetheless, as Londa Schiebinger (a feminist historian of women and science and technology) states, general  patterns of women's participation in craft production were as: "[1] daughters and apprentices;  [2] wives who assisted their husbands as paid or unpaid artisans; [3] independent artisans; or [4] widows who inherited the family business." (Schiebinger 1989/ 67; my numbers) Thus, both women and children were part of invisible work in 17th c. print shops, their invisibility complexly mediated by our own assumptions and institutionalizations and by their local assumptions and institutionalizations. This 17th c. London print shop that is one site for explorations into 17th c. Quaker women's writing and feminism and writing technologies is that of the Sowle family "near the meeting House in White-Hart-Court in Grace-Church-Street." [imprint Folger] Women figure in this family print shop in all the ways Schiebinger names for women's participation in craft production: Tace Sowle is her father's apprentice when he is master printer (indeed he had been apprenticed himself to a woman printer), and she becomes the master printer of the shop after his death, as an independent artisan, until her marriage. After her marriage the shop operates under her mother's name, J. Sowle, as widow owner of the family business, while her daughter Tace continued to head the shop, her husband assisting her. Tace's sister Elizabeth married a printer and together she and her husband became the first Quaker printers in the American colonies. (Skidmore 1998; McDowell 1996, 1998)

One name Quakers were known by was "Publishers of Truth," and as Paula McDowell, a feminist literary historian, points out, "Quaker commitment to the use of the press may be inferred from the fact that in 1659 and 1660 this illegal Nonconformist sect, despite comprising less than 1 percent of the population, published about 10 percent of all the titles printed in England." Women prophets "published truth"--speaking, performing religious enactments, writing out and circulating in manuscript and also in print their prophesy within a complex writing technological ecology. This 17th c. Quaker women's writing technological ecology is the first one I want to investigate and model on the web.

Colloquium WMST 2001

WMST Colloquium presentation 14 February 01/ Katie King on new book ms. Introduction to Feminism and Writing Technologies

In my 30 mins to present, I'm going to give a flavor of some of the discussion from my book draft. I'm going to talk about Leigh Star and Lucy Suchman's two feminist technoscience uses of "work"--invisible work and articulation work--as examples of the narrative of technology as frozen social relations.  I introduced that narrative in the section of the book you've read for today. I'll give an example of that narrative from one of my own research projects. I'll also briefly address how feminist technoscience studies overlaps with a largely European cyberfeminism. Afterwards, if you want, we can discuss my two research sites and their writing technology ecologies. I am also very excited about using both Star and Suchman's work to think about interdisciplinarities, their boundary objects and their communities of practice, and we could discuss that later too if you are interested.

If you look at the handout you'll see that I've printed out the longer quotations I use. I hope this will make the paper easier to listen to. There are three parts to my presentation, the first describes

1. (Star): surfacing invisible work

I'm very excited by the work of Susan Leigh Star. One of the essays of hers I read this last summer was "Ethnography of Infrastructure," which while it called for us to "study boring things" was itself quite fascinating! In one section of the book I describe Star's directives to us about how to "read" infrastructure: she tells us to look for master narratives and to surface invisible work, both specifically feminist strategies from other interdisciplinary locations. I won't read the part about master narratives now, but in it I discuss how web addresses are constructed and what master narratives they include, and what is othered in these addresses. Now I'll share with you part of what I wrote about the strategy of surfacing invisible work  using one of my own research projects as an example, tying it into Star's insights:

[Let me draw] upon another historical institution, a 17th c. London print shop, where some of the Quaker women's pamphlets I study were printed. Until recently the ubiquitous figure of the master printer was a man, and indeed, typically speaking master printers in England were men in the 17th c. It is all too easy for us today to assume, because of that, that  such 17th c. print shops were the sites of men's work (a possible master narrative). Yet these print shops were part of a very different structure of work than what we assume today. Regulated by guilds, they formally and informally organized the labor of a whole household, comprised of journeymen, apprentices, and other household members, including servants. Some of the work done by women in the past is rendered invisible by our contemporary assumptions about the meanings of male domination of craft production. Indeed, such work by women was probably visible and invisible at the time too, according to assumptions and institutionalizations of guild governance and social order locally. Nonetheless, as Londa Schiebinger (a feminist historian of women and science and technology) states, general  patterns of women's participation in craft production were as: "[1] daughters and apprentices;  [2] wives who assisted their husbands as paid or unpaid artisans; [3] independent artisans; or [4] widows who inherited the family business." (Schiebinger 1989/ 67; my numbers) Thus, both women and children were part of invisible work in 17th c. print shops, their invisibility complexly mediated by our own assumptions and institutionalizations and by their local assumptions and institutionalizations. This 17th c. London print shop that is one site for explorations into 17th c. Quaker women's writing and feminism and writing technologies is that of the Sowle family "near the meeting House in White-Hart-Court in Grace-Church-Street." [imprint Folger] The atypical visibility of women's work in this print shop makes it possible to examine the relative invisibility and visibility of women's work elsewhere. Women figure in this family print shop in all the ways Schiebinger names for women's participation in craft production: Tace Sowle is her father's apprentice when he is master printer (indeed he had been apprenticed himself to a woman printer), and she becomes the master printer of the shop after his death, as an independent artisan, until her marriage. After her marriage the shop operates under her mother's name, J. Sowle, as widow owner of the family business, while her daughter Tace continued to head the shop, her husband assisting her. Tace's sister Elizabeth married a printer and together she and her husband became the first Quaker printers in the American colonies. (Skidmore 1998; McDowell 1996, 1998)

Surfacing invisible work in the consideration of printing as a technology and the print shop as an element in an entire 17th c. writing technology ecology, is another way to see clearly the inadequacies of the notion of "a single stable device." A print shop is the location for a range of devices and skills, as well as various relationships, technical and social, that make up printing as activity and technology. The press itself is a metonym for all that printing encompasses. Overvaluing that metonymic reduction results in misdefining and misgendering technological processes. Work by women is made invisible in that metonymic reduction by definition. Thus "technology"--reduced to what women do not do--becomes tautologically "male" as it misrepresents the relational ecology of the work site and the technical devices and skills employed there. Describing without replicating local assumptions about "nonpeople" in the work place is also necessary for adequate accounts of the technological ecology. Overvaluing "typicality" has similar effects in historical representations. Emphasizing a typical male master printer makes invisible the 112 women printers, publishers and booksellers (categories that overlap in ecologically relational ways) documented in this period by feminist scholars. I have been looking at Quaker women's writings on women's public speech in the context of the twenty year period (approximately 1640-1660) in which for political and religious reasons controls on printing shifted, affecting guild and state control, access to presses and who was able to print, both legally and illegally. Women printers were part of this complicated writing technological ecology. After 1641 state and guild controls on printing were weakened and restrictions on the numbers of printers, apprentices and presses ended. In London illegal printing, piracies, and unregistered materials all increased. Feminist publishing historian Maureen Bell says: "What is particularly striking is that a large proportion of...[women's] writing [after 1640] came from women of a lower social status than the predominately aristocratic and genteel writers of the preceding sixty years, and much of it was the product of women inspired by their commitment to the radical puritan movement." One name Quakers were known by was "Publishers of Truth," and as Paula McDowell, a feminist literary historian, points out, "Quaker commitment to the use of the press may be inferred from the fact that in 1659 and 1660 this illegal Nonconformist sect, despite comprising less than 1 percent of the population, published about 10 percent of all the titles printed in England." Women prophets "publishing truth"--speaking, performing religious enactments, writing out and circulating in manuscript and also in print their prophesy within a complex writing technological ecology--were part of the shifts in leadership and power among religious groups in the period before and after Quakerism becomes a bounded sect.

New historical re-representations of pasts, of past writing technologies, cannot assume that what is typical is an adequate standard for representation. Representation may have to focus on the atypical in order to surface the invisible work of representative groups of people and with writing technologies otherwise lost to sight. In Williamsburg, an entertainment and archeological site in the U.S. depicting national dramas of colonial and revolutionary America and with its own local history of re-representations and performances, today's souvenir guide book highlights the work of woman printer and newspaper publisher Clementina Rind, although her tenure as printer was only a few years. (Olmert & Coffman 1998/47) A children's book published by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and sold in the souvenir shop of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. imagines a girl child's work in the manuscript workshop of her father in 15th c. Paris, drawing upon art historical scholarship about women and manuscript illumination and desires for new narratives for girls. (Robertson & Hewitt 1999) These historical re-representations of women in writing technological ecologies are products of new social movements, new research agendas, new publics of interest, and new contests for historical meaning. Changes in what we might call "infrastructures of historical representation" also echo Star's comments: "Because [infrastructures of representation are] big, layered, and complex, and because [they mean] different things locally, [they are] never changed from above. Changes take time and negotiation, and adjustments with other aspects of the systems are involved." (99/7) Understanding these representations as particular forms of information infrastructure we might turn to other comments by Star: "In information infrastructure, every conceivable form of variation in practice, culture, and norm is inscribed at the deepest levels of design. Some are malleable, changeable, and programmable--if you have the knowledge, time, and other resources to do so. Others...present barriers to users that may only be changed by a full-scale social movement." (99/14)

2. (Suchman): articulation work

In feminist narratives of technology as frozen social relations  ideas of invisible work, particularly "articulation work," are analytic elements in new practices of social accountability and scientific objectivity. These analytic elements allow for spaces to see and imagine, along with other social possibilities, women's creative engagements with technologies.... Lucy Suchman ...is a sociologist who worked for twenty years at Xerox's corporate think tank the Palo Alto Research Center, also known as Xerox PARC. There she participated in many projects analyzing "working relations": "Working relations are understood as sociomaterial connections that sustain the visible and invisible work required to construct coherent technologies and put them into use." (00a/n3) Suchman tells stories about what it takes to construct technologies. She quotes "knowledge infrastructure" theorist Mike Hales: "Users 'construct' technology; they do this both symbolically, in their 'reading' of artefacts, and literally, in the articulation work  that is essential before a concrete configuration of artefacts... can serve as an adequate day-to-day supporting structure for a live practice." (Hales 93/9; emphasis mine) Articulation work is required because work sites are characterized by, as Suchman says: "artifactual richness." "...a kind of archaeological layering of artifacts acquired, in bits and pieces, over time." (99/n14) Here users provide the articulation work needed to construct technological processes out of the assemblage of devices and conditions of work. "...the coherence of artifacts is a contingent and ongoing achievement of practices of design-in-use, in ways and to an extent that is missing from professional talk about finished products." (99/n14) Once again we demystify the idea of a technology as "a single stable device" and emphasize a range of processes of production, much of which is not done by socially recognized "producers" but also by others, some of whom may be locally "nonpeople," in a range of kinds of invisible work, including "use."...

Suchman describes some of her insights while working with others on projects at Xerox PARC: "As members of a very large enterprise engaged in the production of new technologies, I and my colleagues found ourselves enmeshed in an overwhelmingly complex network of relations, for the most part made up of others we had never met and of whose work we are only dimly aware. The simple dichotomy of technology production and use masks (or indexes as we begin to respecify it) what is in actuality an increasingly dense and differentiated layering of people and activities, each operating within a limited sphere of knowing and acting that includes variously crude or sophisticated conceptualizations of the others." (00b/n8) [ASIDE: you might see here some of the reasons I think this material is applicable to thinking about interdisciplinarities!]

[I want to point out that t]his movement from perceiving the masking to respecifying and indexing is crucial to the narrative of technology as frozen social relations  and one of the ways it differs from the demystification process that Ohmann describes. While it includes or begins with demystifications, unmasking is not enough; new practices of social accountability and scientific objectivity are also called upon. Indexing "dense and differentiated layers of people and activities," indexing numerous "limited spheres of knowing and acting," and indexing "variously crude or sophisticated conceptualizations" translated between layers of peoples and their understandings of activities and others, all are called upon in a practice of scientific accountability and objectivity that pays attention to "working relations." Drawing upon Donna Haraway's work on situated knowledges, Suchman expresses these concerns by saying: "My starting place is recent moves to reframe objectivity from an established body of knowledge to knowledge in dynamic production, reproduction and transformation....The movement is from a single, asituated, master perspective that bases its claims to objectivity in the closure of debate, to multiple, located, partial perspectives that find their objective character through ongoing dialogue. The premise is that the latter is not only a better route to objectivity, but that it is in actuality the only way in which claims to objectivity are or ever could be grounded, however much the lived work of knowledge production is deleted from traditional scientific discourse. The feminist move in particular reframes the locus of objectivity from an established body of knowledge not produced or owned by anyone, to knowledges in dynamic production for which we are all responsible." (00a/1-2) Knowledges understood in this way and technologies are linked: "The agenda in the case of design becomes working for the presence of multiple voices not only in knowledge production but in the production of technologies as knowledges objectified [read "frozen"] in a particular way." (00a/n5) Suchman suggests two forms such objectification or freezing or stabilization of technologies as knowledges can take: [1] "handing-off of technologies across multiple, discontinuous worlds each of which stands as a black box for the others," thus relying upon invisible articulation work at each boundary crossing, without challenging crude conceptualizations of others' work; and [2] "awareness of and orientation to the work required to achieve technology stabilization and one's location" within working relations understood in layered, complex terms, possibly with active attempts at translations across boundaries. (00a/n11) Notice that technology stabilization or freezing is not necessarily undesirable. What are problematic are the forms of accountability the process does and does not permit. [ASIDE: again, you might see here why I think this material helps us think about interdisciplinarities.]

[Now I'm going to read the very last bit of writing I intend to share with you today:]

3. Cyberfeminism's use of boundaries objects, cyborg and Haraway

Star's and Suchman's tools for crafting narratives of technology as frozen social relations  emphasize processes of production of technologies and technological infrastructures, speaking to complex agencies of people-things in intra-action. ["People-things" and "intra-action" are terms that come from the work of physicist Karen Barad, which I talk about in the book but not here.] Far from implying that technologies interact with people and culture in global, undifferentiated ways, their strategies of narration emphasize ecological relationships in layers of locals and globals, within and between communities of practice. These approaches are not feminist because they center women as their objects of study, but rather they are feminist because they center feminist methods that attend to various relations of power including those of gender, while they also extend and elaborate upon those methods and their logics. Feminist methods and practices are shared with and [are] ways of sharing their multiple communities of practice. Both Star and Suchman were trained as sociologists, but others who contribute to feminist technoscience studies come from a range of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and (inter)interdisciplinary locations: anthropology, political theory, communications, biology, cultural studies, women's studies, studies of literature and science, feminist social studies of science, medicine and technology, STS or science, technology and society programs, history, sociology and/or philosophy of science, and so on. Some of these (inter)interdisciplines have non-standard names, such as Donna Haraway's institutional location in the History of Consciousness (in Santa Cruz, California), or Zoe Soufoulis' in the new School of Cultural Histories and Futures (in Sidney, Australia). Star and Suchman, like others engaging in feminist technoscience studies, often position themselves in relation to the work of Donna Haraway and / or to that boundary object the Cyborg, with whom Haraway, among others, has become associated. Haraway's sometimes gnomic statements of theory and history are points of inspiration and insight, and her language and metaphors are taken up as tools for departure, for self-reflexive method, for the pleasures of story-telling and activist engagements with the world, and for the kind of humor that attends ardent feminist practices of denaturalization and renaturalization. [quoting Haraway] "Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectally, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humor and serious play." (Haraway with Goodeve 00/171)

[Another quote from Haraway] "...the point is to learn to remember that we might have been otherwise, and might yet be...." (Haraway Modest Witness, quoted in Haraway with Goodeve 00/171) The narrative of technology as frozen social relations  is about that kind of memory and vision connected together through complex agencies, human and nonhuman. The Cyborg is about pasts and futures, machines and peoples, natures and cultures, inextricably interconnected, messy, contradictory, not innocent, and generative. As Haraway uses it, the Cyborg is a figure for a set of specific entities that "became historically possible around World War II and just after. The Cyborg is intimately involved in specific histories of militarization, of specific research projects with ties to psychiatry and communications theory, behavioral research and psychopharmacological research, theories of information and information processing....What interests me most [says Haraway] about the cyborg is that it does unexpected things and accounts for contradictory histories while allowing for some kind of working in  and of  the world." (Haraway with Goodeve 00/128-129)...

Haraway's gnomic, ironic, and thickly described stories of naturecultures ... are performative, whether written or enacted. "...a lot of people get my stuff through the public performances first and only then find the writing more accessible....in public speaking all kinds of issues are possible to perform physically. It is such an intermedia event where voice, gesture, slides, enthusiasm all shape the density of the words. Oddly, I think people can handle the density better in a performance than on the page." (108) This performative element is perhaps especially bewitching to those cyberfeminists who also position themselves in relation to Haraway and to the figure of the Cyborg. By way of Haraway and the Cyborg cyberfeminism and feminist technoscience studies overlap. Cyberfeminism is especially lively in European and in non-U.S. English-speaking locations around the globe, and is inextricably connected with arts of all kinds but especially avant-garde performance and computer art in a range of new media. The Cyborg in this context is more and more clearly a boundary object, sometimes less the post-WWII entity Haraway herself finds worth scrutinizing, and more a wild amalgam of goddess imagery and technophilia performing a range of new historical and artistic connections across centuries and across generations. In this context the Cyborg performs the work of connecting women and technology through and within many pasts. The narrative of frozen social relations is not the narrative in construction here. Rather all the narratives of technology are engaged, each for its virtues and each bringing along its baggage. Cyberfeminism shares enthusiastically Haraway's poetic passions and evocative analytic and performative language, while feminist technoscience studies shares Haraway's fascination with concrete historical specificity and theories of complex agencies of materialization. The Cyborg performs boundary work across various communities of practice embodied in ranges of either technoscience or cyberfeminism, "weakly structured in common use" and "strongly structured in individual-site use." (Bowker & Star 99/297)

 As one example of cyberfeminism, British feminist Sadie Plant's book Zeros + Ones :  Digital Women + the New Technoculture  (Doubleday 97) develops a "new mythology" (SP/ZK 99) in which the practice of weaving stands for women's deeply historical relationships with rather than against technology. The teenage girl Ada Lady Lovelace in this mythology mathematically transforms activities of weaving (the automations of the Jacquard loom in particular) into the codes that work the computer, understood as the multitasking machine that mirrors women's multiple worlds of necessity, creation and "ordered disorder." (SP/ZK 99) The book is intended as an intervention into essentialisms of "male" technology, essentialisms constitutive of modern industrial US and European cultures, and elements in some feminist critiques of technology and its globalizations. Zeros + Ones  presents an alternative picture meant to enhearten women and motivate them to delight in female possibility actualized within new technocultures. Strategically and unabashedly optimistic, Zeros + Ones  is intended to challenge women in a "positive anarchic" (SP/ZK 99) nonlinear poetic performance piece of alternate useable pasts and futures. "Hardware, software, wetware--before their beginnings and beyond their ends, women have been the simulators, assemblers, and programmers of the digital machines." (SP 97 quoted in Galloway n.d. http) But the aspects of the Cyborg having to do especially with identity and embodiment are the linkages with other cyberfeminisms. The Australian art activist group VNS Matrix... organizing in the 90s,  proclaimed in their Cyberfeminist Manifesto: "...we are the virus of the new world disorder / rupturing the symbolic from within / saboteurs of big daddy mainframe / the clitoris is the direct line to the matrix / VNS Matrix...." (http) In 1997 "the First Cyberfeminist International (CI) met at Documenta X, an international exhibition of contemporary art" and progressive politics in Kassel, Germany. (Galloway) Feminist artist and theorist Faith Wilding (one of the founders of the 70s women's arts movement in the U.S. and a member of the Old Boys Network, one of the groups organizing the conference) in her analysis of generational attitudes she encountered at the conference urged cyberfeminists both to define cyberfeminism and to develop theory to enhance these insurgent art activisms. Playing upon the last line of Donna Haraway's 1985 "Manifesto for Cyborgs" ("Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg, than a goddess." [101]) , [Faith Wilding] says: "If I’d rather be a cyberfeminist than a goddess, I’d damned well better know why, and be willing to say so." (http) [Wilding] questioned what she saw as "a profound ambivalence in many wired women’s relationship to what they perceive to be a monumental past feminist history, theory, and practice." The three manifestations of this ambivalence she described as "1. Repudiation of 'old style' (1970s) feminism"; "2. Cybergrrl-ism," by which she means an anti-theoretical practice of passionate netart; and "3. Net utopianism," needing also a critique informed by an analysis of political economy. She urges: "While affirming new possibilities for women in cyberspace, cyberfeminists must critique utopic and mythic constructions of the Net, and strive to work with other resistant netgroups in activist coalitions. Cyberfeminists need to declare solidarity with transnational feminist and postcolonial initiatives, and work to use their access to communications technologies and electronic networks to support such initiatives." (http) Thus cyberfeminism is a ranging term that passes among a variety of feminisms, generations, visualizations of embodiment, while at the same time centering art activist strategies rehistoricizing connections among women and technologies. Women are at the center of cyberfeminism, while its methodologies so far are anarchically moving and artistically postmodern.

That's all I'll present today. The rest of this chapter goes on to discuss various feminist critiques of cyberfeminism and other feminist approaches to technology, including what I call "the technology question in feminism."