The following excerpt is taken from Lisl Walsh’s Feature Article in Cloelia.
This article examines the history of the WCC using the Newsletter, later Cloelia, as the main source.
To read the full article, please go to page 6 of Cloelia N.S. 2 (Fall 2012).

The WCC Newsletter: Lessons in Sisterhood

Lisl Walsh, Beloit University

 

This article stems from a rather broad project I undertook as a graduate student in 2005 to understand the history and present state of gender equity within the field of Classics. Part of that project included a brief examination of the early Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC) newsletters, to which I was introduced and given access by one of my mentors, Amy Richlin. Written with the 40th anniversary in mind, this article constitutes an expansion and rethinking of my encounter with the early newsletters of the WCC.[1] It is a critical reading of a selection of the WCC’s early newsletters, aiming to provide information (and critique, where applicable) on the following questions: 1) what problems did female and self-professed feminist classicists face in the years after the WCC was founded? 2) How does the newsletter testify to practical strategies, actual or envisioned, for meeting the challenges posed by structural privileges extant in the field, and might these strategies be useful today? 3) Finally, how were feminist classicists situated within and responding to the larger scope of American social movements of the 1960s and 1970s?[2] I come to the following conclusions: the Women’s Classical Caucus Newsletter (WCCN) attests that women in the field of Classics faced serious and myriad obstacles in the profession, stemming both from within and without their respective departmental and academic homes; the WCCN advocates a sense of group responsibility for the maintenance and advancement of women (and those who study ancient women) in the profession, but occasionally falls into common “second-wave” traps of discouraging “feminine” behavior in the workplace, ignoring concerns of race, sexuality, and class, and drawing lines between progressive and radical feminist action; finally, the early issues of the WCCN provide us with an essential perspective of the development of the entire field (not just its female inhabitants), where it is clear that feminist initiative results in many positive changes toward a more egalitarian professional environment.


[1] This essay does not attempt to provide a comprehensive account of everything at work in the newsletter (there is really too much material to talk about in one article) nor to speak for those individuals whose writings are in the newsletters.

[2] I want to thank Amy Richlin for giving me the idea (way back in 2005) to write on feminism in the Classics and for providing me with her many copies of the WCC newsletter and many other source books. I also want to thank Alison Jeppesen-Wigelsworth and Chris Ann Matteo for their support in getting this piece published in the first place, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments and questions, which were extremely helpful. Any malfunctions and/or gaps in this paper are solely of my own doing.

 

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