The history of what we now call “academic feminism” did not take place exclusively in colleges and universities. Rather, a range of infrastructure facilitated the production and dissemination of feminist knowledge in the decades following the institutionalization of the first women’s studies programs in the United States. This article looks specifically at the infamous 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality to trace the multiple trajectories through which feminism was gradually academicized and institutionalized in the university. This conference is a particularly instructive case study because it already exists as a locus of anxiety in which histories of grassroots activism, feminist thought, and proto–queer theory collide. The article, then, provides an archivally driven account of the conference, from its planning stages through its political fallout, with an eye toward the infrastructural and personal networks that weave inside and outside of the academy. Because knowledge production is a collaborative process, the article argues that we end up with oddly skewed accounts of feminist field formation when inclusion is dependent on proximity to recognizable forms of feminism in the university.


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pp. 49-80
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