- Frontiers Turns Forty!
This year marks a momentous anniversary for Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. Forty years ago, in 1975, the journal was founded at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Since its inception Frontiers has resided primarily in the US West. The journal moved to the University of New Mexico, to Washington State University, and to Arizona State University before relocating to the Midwest at Ohio State University in 2012.
As our editorial team enters our third year of producing the journal, we honor the spirit of the founders of Frontiers. We publish cutting-edge interdisciplinary feminist scholarship and creative work that expand the frontiers of our collective knowledge. We also foreground scholarship, literature, and visual art that privileges intersectional analysis, women-of-color feminism, and transnational feminisms. After all, one society’s frontier can be reinterpreted as a borderland, a place where multiple peoples, cultures, and nations coexist.
To help us honor the past, we begin this issue with a special feature, “Feminist Reflections.” Our first reflection features a roundtable of distinguished scholars on the life and career of historian Gerda Lerner (1920–2013). Born in Vienna to a Jewish family, Lerner crossed multiple borders in her personal, political, and intellectual life as she became a labor activist and leading scholar in US women’s and black women’s history. Renowned historians Nancy F. Cott, Linda Gordon, Linda K. Kerber, Alice Kessler-Harris, Joyce Antler, and Thavolia Glymph offer reflections on Lerner’s intellectual and activist careers. These comments were drawn from two events, a panel at the Organization of American Historians Annual Conference, held in San Francisco in April 2013, and the symposium “Why History Matters,” held at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, in December 2013. Eileen Boris and Elizabeth Currans, authors of our “Feminist Currents” feature, offer concluding reflections to the roundtable. Their comments incorporate submissions sent in response to the question, “When Gerda Lerner passed, we lost a path-breaking feminist historian and fierce advocate for justice. How did her pioneering work shape your research and teaching?” [End Page vii]
The articles by Basuli Deb and Karen Kuo continue the conversation between the past and present by foregrounding how historical literature provides new insights for theorizing transnational feminism. Deb analyzes Aphra Behn’s 1688 novella Oroonoko as a form of “protofeminist transnational politics between an imperial woman writer-narrator and the colonial subject in the seventeenth century.” Karen Kuo argues that Etsu I. Sugimoto’s 1926 work, A Daughter of a Samurai, constituted an important trans-Pacific feminist text in the early twentieth century.
While Deb and Kuo examine race in relation to transnationalism, Kathleen B. Casey and Anh Hua analyze race in relation to sexuality and self-authorship. Casey’s work foregrounds the career of Eva Tanguay, a vaudeville performer in the early twentieth century. Tanguay, a white woman, performed “animalistic savagery,” presenting audiences with “a new ideal of racialized masculine femininity.” Hua analyzes Audre Lorde’s 1982 memoir, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, to illuminate how Lorde narrated eroticism and sexual trauma as practices of self-invention.
The final two essays explore gender, race, and collective activism. La Donna L. Forsgren analyzes the art and activism of Barbara Ann Teer to illuminate how black women intellectuals contributed to the Black Arts Movement (1965–76). Marshall Jeffries examines the decolonial and feminist activism of the Occaneechi, a Native American nation in North Carolina.
The artwork of Laura Kina and the creative essay by Catherine Jagoe are perfect complements to this issue’s themes of race, transnationalism, sexuality, and activism. Based in Chicago, Kina is a multiracial artist whose work examines the cultural influence of Bollywood (the movie industry in India); the historical significance of Loving vs. Virginia, the 1967 US Supreme Court case that deemed antimiscegenation laws (which prevented interracial marriage) unconstitutional; and the legacies of Japanese immigration and plantation labor in Hawaii. Kina explores these societal and historical issues through visual depictions of individuals and landscapes. Jagoe examines her past life, particularly her struggles with anorexia nervosa...