By Ruth Nicholson, Structured Volunteer at The Feminist Library and member of the organising committee of the ‘Women’s Studies Without Walls’
Women’s Studies Without Walls is an exciting new initiative launched by The Feminist Library in Autumn 2012. It aims to return Women’s Studies to its rightful place, informing and encouraging women to take radical feminist action through learning and sharing skills and information. Women’s Studies Without Walls (WSWW) will kick off on the weekend of 19th and 20th January with a gathering of assorted workshops, talks and skill-shares, the theme of which will be ‘The Personal is Political’. This will be followed by a regular series of WSWW evening events at the Feminist Library and, we hope, by sister events elsewhere.
The impetus for WSWW was a concern that much of what is now taught in universities as Gender Studies has lost touch with grassroots feminist activism, coupled with a fear that the neoliberal and cuts agenda across education will remove any possibility of radical education at any stage of learning. Everywhere we turn we are faced with barriers, or ‘walls’, preventing us from reaching beyond institutions and moving towards radical feminist change. We want to address the relationship between activism and academia and put meaning back into the phrase ‘the personal is political’.
The weekend’s sessions will include creative workshops and skill-shares such as radio production, zine-making and flash-fiction-writing; reflections on issues such as abortion in Ireland, sex and relationships education and developing Women’s Studies; training in leadership skills, and understanding identity and intersectionality; a history of feminist photography and a radical feminist self defence session. There will be an evening film and social on the Saturday and an afternoon social on the Sunday, and plenty of time to converse and network throughout the weekend. Make sure you register your place!
After the weekend event, The Feminist Library will host a series of regular WSWW evening events. We invite your input and feedback, and will be broadening out to include a wide range of contacts and geographical areas. Possibilities for development are endless! There are so many topics of feminist interest to develop, so we will hold a session towards the end of the weekend to focus on future plans.
In April 2013, WSWW will be hosting a symposium at the Feminist Library during the Gender and Education Association annual conference. At this, a panel of speakers with a range of life experiences will address issues including accessibility, consciousness-raising, reaching beyond established institutions, and the relationship between activism and academia. Alongside the symposium, the Feminist Library will be offering tours of the library, and delegates attending the conference will also be welcome to visit the library during normal opening hours.
WHERE: The Feminist Library, 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW
WHEN: 19th January 2013 11am-11pm (inc. evening social); 20th January 2013 11am-5pm
WHO: All self-defined women welcome
COST: Suggested donation on entry £2-£10
OTHER INFO: Wheelchair accessible, kids’ space available, catering provided – volunteers needed!
For more information, contact Ruth at the Feminist Library:
Phone 020 7261 0879