This assignment asks you to theorize from and about your own personal, affective worlds in relationship to feminist knowledge production. I invite you to use the tools of our readings to think through the ways in which feminist theory moves you – toward or away from particular places, times, people, or politics. Home in on a key idea, thinker, or text, learn more about it, and write a short essay that unfolds this work through the lens of your own experience.

The form of this assignment is open; you may approach it as a critical autobiography, an autoethnographic reflection, or an personally inflected research paper. I was inspired to create this assignment by UMD WGSS PhD Anna Storti’s beautiful essay “So, I Turn Inside: Overcome by the Unbearable, Seeing Myself in Michiyo Fukaya,” forthcoming in Feminist Studies; reading this (in the Files section of our ELMS site), may help you find ideas, though there are many other examples of writing that connects the personal and the theoretical both on our syllabus and in published form (the LA Review of Books site Avidly hosts many examples).

Your range of reference should extend beyond what we have read for class, though you may focus primarily on works we have read together. You may write about ideas, thinkers, or texts we have not discussed, provided the connections to our class’s areas of focus are clearly made.

This is an opportunity to make sense of your personal and social location – in this moment of catastrophe and transformation, and in the matrices of power and oppression more broadly. Which theorists allow you to critically articulate and analyze the ways you are situated? What are the practices of worldmaking and critique that make feminist knowledge production possible (if, indeed, it does feel possible) for you?

As you work on this assignment, bear in mind that the venerable feminist adage “the personal is political” means both that individual experience matters and that its mattering is always collective and contextual. I am inviting you to write about your experience; but the goal is not simply to narrate personal experience. Rather, you are taking up your experience as material for theorizing. Your story is a building block, a beginning point, for creative, critical analysis that demonstrates the urgency of feminist knowledge.

Please note also that you do not have to write about your life directly if you would prefer not to. It is quite possible to write about the affect of theory without divulging personal information. Instead of personal narrative, you can lean into the collective, the institutional, the historical, and/or the philosophical dimensions of affect.

Write at least 1000 and no more than 1500 words.

Use .doc, .docx, or .rtf format only. Include full citations in the style of your choice.