About Feminist Studies

Founded in 1972, Feminist Studies was the first scholarly journal in women’s studies and remains a flagship publication with a record of breaking new ground in the field. Whether drawing from the complex past or the shifting present, the pieces that appear in Feminist Studies raise social and political questions that intimately and significantly affect women and men around the world.

The journal publishes research and criticism that takes into account the intersections of gender with racial identity, sexual orientation, economic means, geographical location, and physical ability. No other scholarly journal also features artistic, creative, and activist output on the same scale: each issue contains multi-page full color art spreads alongside art essays, poetry and fiction, photo essays, and commentaries on newsworthy topics.

Our issues typically contain thematic clusters of essays, creative work, and activist output, and our special issues (on topics such as Race and Transgender Studies, Women and Prison, Culture and History in the New South Africa, Chicana Studies, Conjugalities in South Asia, The Body and Healthcare) draw a wide readership.

Although many of the articles we publish draw on the methodology of a single discipline, we especially welcome truly interdisciplinary research that showcases contributions from multiple traditions, sources, and methods. All accepted articles are reviewed by specialists in the author’s field and also by editors from a variety of disciplines. Our editorial collective includes scholars in literature, history, media studies, psychology, international studies, and sociology, and our editorial consultants are drawn from an even wider pool. Thus we ensure that each article meets the highest standards of scholarship in the specialized field and also is of interest to a broader interdisciplinary readership. With an acceptance rate of less than 8 percent, we are highly selective in choosing the content that appears in our publication.

 

History

Feminist Studies first appeared in 1972, after more than three years of discussion and planning. At that time, women from Columbia University’s women’s liberation group, students in a women’s studies course at Sarah Lawrence College, and feminist activists from New York City brought together a wide network of feminists committed to creating a scholarly journal with high scholarly standards and community relevance. This feminist network believed that the women’s movement needed an analytic forum to engage the issues raised by the movement and to bring together the contributions of feminist activists and scholars. The title, Feminist Studies, was chosen to indicate that the content of the journal would be both scholarly and political and would foreground women as a social group and gender as a category of analysis.

The journal’s first editor, Ann Calderwood, ran the journal as an out-of-pocket, out-of-apartment operation, publishing only three volumes before 1977, several of which were Special Issues drawing on papers first presented at the earliest conferences organized by the Berkshire Conference in Women's History. It is sometimes difficult to remember how rapidly feminism grew in the early 1970s. In 1969 it was a radical notion to argue that women should be studied; by 1977 women’s studies was beginning its phenomenal growth inside the academy. In the fall of that year, the journal was restructured and thereafter edited by a collective of academics. It found its current home at the University of Maryland at College Park under the guidance of Editorial Director, Claire G. Moses, and a small paid staff. Feminist Studies is still housed at the University of Maryland and through the Department of Women’s Studies enjoys office space and a small financial stipend. Other than this assistance, Feminist Studies remains self-publishing, self-supporting, and independent of the university or with any other institution.

Over the years, Feminist Studies has been a reliable source of significant writings on issues that are important to all classes and races of women. Those familiar with the literature on women’s studies are well aware of the importance and vitality of the journal and the frequency with which articles first published in Feminist Studies are cited and/or reprinted elsewhere. Indeed, no less than four anthologies have been created from articles originally published in Feminist Studies: Clio’s Consciousness Raised: New Perspectives on the History of Women; Sex and Class in Women’s History; U.S. Women in Struggle: A Feminist Studies Anthology; and Lesbian Subjects: A Feminist Studies Reader.

As we continue to grow and to engage new generations of feminist scholars, activists, artists, and creative writers, we find ourselves looking back to our history for inspiration. Always deeply committed to interdisciplinary scholarship, Feminist Studies has been well positioned to engage in global feminist dialogues. In addition to publishing work by women around the world, we have created strong ties with other journals through our membership in the international group, Feminist Journals Network (FJN). We have also in recent years published more work by feminist activists, including commentaries, short reports, and interviews and have strengthened our connection with contemporary artists by publishing full color, high quality art reproductions in each issue. As our history reflects, Feminist Studies has not remained stagnant; we continue to seek out new ways to remain a vital forum for scholars as well as activists involved in all aspects of feminist practice.