¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1 Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction—is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for woman, is more than a search for identity: it is part of her refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society. –Adrienne Rich
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 In 1972, Adrienne Rich wrote an essay that would both profoundly shape feminist approaches to women’s history in the decades to come and go on to inform feminists’ own self-archiving practices. ‘When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision’ paints a provocative portrait of contemporary women as ‘sleepwalkers’ awakening together to reject the history and tradition of male artists and thinkers and name themselves as authors in their own right (Rich, 1972: 18). With its many references to the Western literary canon—Ibsen, James, Woolf, Austen—the essay initially reads as a encouragement to female writers of fiction and poetry, but its central call to ‘re-vision’ women’s pasts as an act of survival was also to be taken up by myriad feminists across scholarly and artistic spectrums. Perhaps most notoriously, in 1979, the visual artist Judy Chicago created The Dinner Party, a giant triangular dining table installation with thirty-nine vulva-like place settings, each commemorating a different historical female figure—from ‘the primordial goddess’ to Sappho to Georgia O’Keefe. In a related effort, feminist historians set about to uncover the secret lives of women, famous and forgotten, across the centuries. Their histories generally served as celebrations of these women’s pasts and drew connections between their lives and those of women in the present. In her history of female companionship from the sixteenth through twentieth centuries, Surpassing the Love of Men, Lillian Faderman, for example, ultimately claimed various ‘romantic friendships’ to be early iterations of lesbian feminism (Faderman, 1981: 20). Feminist film theorists, meanwhile, contended that they had to ‘re-vision’ much of film history—including not only its objects and approaches but its structures of vision as well—before an authentic women’s cinema could emerge (Doane, Mellencamp, Williams, 1984: 2, 14-15). Though the particular stakes of their disciplines and media varied, these assorted feminist projects of the seventies and eighties shared Rich’s presumption that knowing women’s history was necessary for women’s survival.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Since then, a number of the premises of these terms have shifted. While documenting the lives of those marginalized in the past remains a commendable practice, for many how and why they might go about doing so are no longer the same. Due to the developments of woman of color feminisms in the seventies and eighties and deconstructive feminism and queer theory in the nineties, the ahistorical and essentialist conception of ‘woman’ that much of this ‘re-vision’ work depends upon has been called into question.  More recently, queer, postcolonial, and media studies scholars—often building off of Michel Foucault’s scholarship on archeology and genealogy—have begun to destabilize traditional understandings of temporality and historiography.  Each of these bodies of scholarship, in this context, raises questions about whether ‘survival’ (as well as ‘survival’ for whom) is still the operative framework. Nonetheless, ‘re-vision,’ for many feminists, prevails as they move from documenting the lives of women before them to preparing for the preservation of their own lives as history. With the continued growth of second wave feminist archives as well as their increased digitization over the last decade or so, those interested in writing the history of feminism have to decide how they might want to receive these archives and whether they can do so outside of the traditional historiographical frameworks of inheritance and descent. With this paper, I survey some newly formed feminist archives and propose a way of receiving them that revises ‘re-vision’ while nonetheless engaging with its past.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 3 Contrary to Susan Faludi’s claim that American feminism’s ‘inability to conceive of a succession has crippled women’s progress’ (Fauldi, 2010: 29), I argue that feminism has obsessively thought successions such that any other form of temporal relation outside of teleological ‘waves’ and ‘generations’ is practically unimaginable. In doing so, I join a number of recent scholars of feminism, who claim that women born during and after the rise of second wave feminism have in fact demonstrated on ongoing interest in feminist history, though it may have taken forms that went unrecognized or unappreciated by older feminists.  Like Kate Eichhorn, who, in her new book The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order (2013), describes in the institutionalization of feminist archives as a practice with the potential for queer cross-temporal feminist discourse, as they bring together both texts from different times (such as second wave and third wave underground publications) as well as people from different times (researchers and the researched), I claim that online access to original feminist materials and interviews could prove important to imagining encounters alternative to traditional feminist historical logics. Feminist bloggers are interested in the feminist pasts, and now, thanks to the digital nature of a number of recent feminist archives, much of feminism—past and present—coexists in the close proximity of online space. For those, such as myself, who are interested in writing or otherwise conceptualizing feminist histories but did not live through the seventies, many of these pasts are now at our fingertips, and as they reach out, beckoning the attention of those of us in present, we are at theirs. I propose we think feminism together, not as mothers and daughters but as cross-temporal peers, co-conspirators, and even perhaps lovers of sorts, as we come together in the process of imagining possible futures, in which, if we are lucky, none of us will survive.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 2 In addition to the many physical feminist archives at academic institutions—such as the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University, the Sophia Smith Collection Women’s History Archives at Smith College, and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University—which are largely only accessible to scholars and/or those who are able to travel to their locations, second wave feminists have been branching out into film and new media means with the explicit goal of bringing their histories to wider and younger audiences. In many of these films, the logics of ‘re-vision’ are maintained in that they do little to complicate how the meanings of ‘woman’ or ‘self’ in feminist history’s ‘drive to self-knowledge’ may change across time and thus alter or challenge the characterization of feminist history-writing as ‘survival.’ Two of these films, !Women Art Revolution (2010) and Makers: Women Who Make America (2013), do offer a limited narrative of feminist history—making second wave feminism’s ‘success’ or ‘failure,’ as hinged on younger generations’ choice to continue their pursuits, the ultimate question—but are nonetheless interestingly paired with digital archives that extend their original footage and grant these histories the potential to be taken up in ways previously unimaginable.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 4 Lynn Hershman Leeson’s 2010 film !Women Art Revolution (!WAR) is a history of the Feminist Art Movement in the United States that first screened at Sundance, Toronto, and Berlin International Film Festivals to critical acclaim. The film chronologically recounts some of the Feminist Art Movement’s proudest as well as most terrifying moments—from the 1968 Miss America Pageant protest to Congress’ censoring of The Dinner Party to Ana Mendieta’s suspicious death—through the cutting together of documentary footage and dozens of interviews that Hersham Leeson shot over the course of nearly forty years. Two minutes into the film, ‘slides’ of second wave artists’ art works flicker on screen against a black background, the accompanying ‘clicker’ sounds replicating the effect of what it would be like to see them in an art history lecture, as Hersham Leeson tells viewers in a narrative voiceover, ‘This film is peppered with images, which for years you were prevented from seeing, because there was no access to them. This film is the remains of an insistent history that refuses to wait any longer to be told.’ Such an introduction presumes that others were seeking out this history of the second wave but could not find it, much like the histories of women before that the second wave themselves once sought out, and suggests that, for this reason, they see themselves as needing to serve as their own historians. The historical differences between the circumstances of women before them and their own are minimized. The paradoxical nature of this minimization becomes ever the more apparent in this seemingly banal excerpt from a New York Times review of the film, which begins by quoting Hersham Leeson before describing the institutionalization of her own artwork: ‘”We’re not talking about a piece of history that had been erased. It hadn’t been written about in the first place,” said Ms. Hersham Leeson, whose works are in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others’ (Veltam, 2011). I point this out not to make the postfeminist claim that equality has been achieved (it hasn’t) such that second wave feminist ought to ‘let it go’ (they shouldn’t) but to point to the ways in which second wave ahistorical claims of sameness across time have extended into the present Much of the film is a self-memorialization of sorts. It even concludes with an Academy Awards style tribute to its deceased subjects: Arlene Raven, Nancy Spero, Hannah Wilke, Marcia Tucker, Sylvia Sleigh and Ana Mendieta. The physical ‘survival’ of much of these women’s artwork in museums as well as the intellectual preservation of their contributions in art history courses and textbooks (even if exemplary of tokenism at times) is elided such that the survival logics of ‘re-vision’ can be extended with little revising.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 2 Dyllan McGee, Betsy West, and Peter Kunhardt’s 2013 film Makers: Women Who Make America takes a slightly different approach to its related but broader subject matter. Makers does not focus on any particular sector of second wave feminism, such as the Feminist Art Movement, but tells a general story of how second wave feminism changed the lives American citizens. In doing so, it largely focuses on legal change and has a liberal feminist bias but, having learned from past critiques of feminist historiographical exclusionism, includes the perspectives and anecdotes of more radical feminists, Black feminists, and Chicana feminists and touches on non-legal feminist battles as well. Like !WAR, Makers moves chronologically (starting with Betty Friedan’s 1963 bestseller The Feminine Mystique and extending into concerns of American women in the present) and is structured largely around talking head interviews, strung together with voiceover narration, though this time the narration is not voiced in first person by one or more of the filmmakers but in third person by the actress Meryl Streep. The documentary culls from dozens of archives for its documentary film footage, newspaper headlines, and still photographs, however, like !WAR, it contributes original talking head interviews, in this case all conducted relatively recently. Due to the film’s generally uncontroversial thesis that second wave feminism changed American women’s lives for the better and its respectable initial airing on PBS, the filmmakers were able to solicit the participation of hundreds of women, notable for their contributions to women’s lives, whether in politics, organizing, or culture/entertainment, including Gloria Steinem, Alix Kates Shulman, Rita Mae Brown, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen Degeneres, and Oprah Winfrey. As this list suggests, Makers, unlike !WAR, insists on the continued recognition of feminists’ contributions to American political and cultural spheres. It posits its younger interviewees as direct beneficiaries of its older interviewees’ achievements and establishes a clear temporal line of descent from past to present. In order to make this argument the film performs a fair amount of rhetorical gymnastics at its conclusion, as it cuts together second wave interviewees speaking to both their hopes for younger generations of women as well as what they see as their movement’s failures—the unratified Equal Rights Amendment and the dissolution of many seventies feminist organizations in the eighties—and ‘postfeminist’ interviewees, including the grown biological daughter of one of the second waver interviewees, speaking to their own disinterest in the kinds of activism that the generation before them initiated while also recognizing how their choices were made possible by them. The tension is for the most part resolved in the film’s last few minutes, as it builds to a more hopeful finale, complete with an unabashed swelling underscore, suggesting that the movement did not fail so much as remains unfinished. However, the film does little to account for how feminism itself might need to change in order to survive, and it refuses to consider any possible relationships between past and present feminisms other than that of the mother and daughter who may or may not work their problems out.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 2 While it might sound like I am asking a lot of these two documentaries, each of the projects actually does offer alternatives to their own narrative arcs in that neither claims to be a self-contained text but, in a fairly atypical fashion for documentary filmmaking, have made substantial portions of their original footage available to interested viewers to engage with on their own time online. These archives do not inherently ameliorate the historiographical issues I have with the films, and they were clearly made with similar survival strategies in mind, but they do open up the ways in which those on the receiving end of second wave feminist history could possibly engage with their content. Put another way, the archives exceed the teleological claims of their original sources. Stanford University provides online access to the raw footage and transcripts of the interviews conducted for !WAR as part of its digital collections. Rather than receiving the interviews piecemeal through few second excerpts woven together in the film around particular events, on the Stanford site viewers can watch entire interviews with the film’s interviewees, which are typically between twenty minutes and an hour long, or download and read PDFs of the transcripts of these interviews and thus get a less mediated engagement with each of the individual artists and critics replete with greater detail and nuance. Interestingly, when watching these full interviews, the viewer is also privy to the construction of documentary content, as some interviewees, such as B. Ruby Rich, can be seen and heard asking to start the articulation of an idea or memory over again and others, such as the Guerilla Girls, can be seen and heard being asked to provide answers in complete sentences. For a while, there was also a growing ‘community-curated archive’ of women’s artworks on a different !WAR site, but while a couple years ago there were over four hundred contributions there now appear to be only one hundred and twelve, suggesting that the site has not only stalled but for some reason decreased its activity.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 2 For the release of Makers, PBS partnered with AOL and together they built a supplementary ongoing collection of thousands of interviews online, most of which are not part of the three and a half hour film itself. These interviews are not currently available in their entirety, but each instead serves as a mini-documentary of sorts, which in two to ten minutes allows a single interviewee to tell one or many stories related to their experiences as a feminist (activist, organizer, politician, author, entrepreneur, comedian, actress, etc.). Viewers can build playlists and watch as many of these mini-documentaries in a sitting as they wish, and they are directed toward more ways to interact with this and related content through blog posts, Twitter feeds, and other new media components. One such new media opportunity that Makers provided was a forty minute Twitter chat with screenwriter and director Callie Khouri on September 17th, 2013, which I, as a Twitter follower of @MAKERSwomen who was online at the appointed time, was able to witness and participate in (though my question about writing as a feminist for network as opposed to premium cable television went unanswered). While not especially innovative as far as new media platforms are concerned, both of these interview-based archives radically alter their viewers’ engagements with the content of the films for which they were initially shot. Viewers or spectators now become interactive participants, able to pick and choose what they watch and in what order as well as return to or extend their engagements across time, and in doing so the films’ narratives that pivot on descent or survival are likely less dominate, as the chronology of the experience gets rearranged and a greater variety of stories get told.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 1 When it comes to feminist historiography, these two projects make for fairly unique examples of interactive feminist archiving as part of the process, and they are largely possible due to their use of documentary filmmaking. However, the !WAR and Makers projects are in fact but two recent additions to a growing body of digital feminist archives easily accessible to the public online.
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 1 Simpler in format but no less rich in content, a number of original feminist journals have been digitized and are now available to read and/or download online. Among these are the socialist feminist film journal Jump Cut (1974-present), the feminist art journal Heresies (1977-1993), the Canadian feminist newspaper Broadside (1979-1989), and the feminist science fiction fanzine Janus (later Aurora) (1975-1990). Unlike the documentary films and their online interviews, these journal issues are offered up with little narrative framing other than a few paragraphs on each of their histories. This is also the case for other original source digital feminist archives, such as the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ ‘Herstories: A Digital Collection,’ which includes a series of ten video interviews about the formation and impact of the Daughters of Bilitis as well as one hundred and thirty digitized audio recordings of lesbian and lesbian feminist interviews, talks, readings, and panels from the seventies and eighties, including the interviews that Madeline D. Davis and Elizabeth Kennedy conducted for their ethnography of the 1930s-1960s working class Buffalo lesbian bar scene, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold (1993), dozens of Audre Lorde speeches and poetry readings (often with Adrienne Rich), and a recording the 1977 MLA panel on ‘Lesbians and Literature,’ featuring Julia (Penelope) Stanley, Mary Daly, Audre Lorde, Judith McDaniel, and Adrienne Rich. With only brief factual information accompanying these audio recordings, they are simply there awaiting our listening. Just as one might stream a news or entertainment podcast as one prepares dinner or gets ready for bed, one can listen to Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich read lesbian feminist poetry to rooms of dozens, if not hundreds, of women in the past and then the Q&A from afterwards. Furthermore, one can fast-forward, pause, rewind, and repeat any of these recordings, and, in a way, learn the ins and outs of their events in a more thorough fashion than perhaps those who were originally involved. The affect of their work alters. One can hear Lorde or Rich working through ideas that they would later publish as essays, and, for me at least, the weight of their written words are more often than not affirmed in the sobriety of their voices. Meanwhile, in Mary Daly’s prose, one can hear a sense of humor that most likely otherwise would go unnoticed when reading her theological tomes. In general, the opportunity to listen and watch as well as read one’s way through this lesbian, feminist, and lesbian feminist history and to easily access entire runs of print journals from the comfort of one’s home or local library profoundly changes the experience of engaging with the second wave. And one can only wonder how this engagement would change even further if it employed the digital tools of gifs, memes, sampling, and vids, a potentiality suggested by projects such as Danielle Henderson’s Feminist Ryan Gosling and Lila Futuransky’s critical fanvid Black Steel, both of which rework second wave feminist texts (theory in the first case and film in the second) to make arguments about politics in the present.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 3 Both Susan Faludi and the !WAR and Makers filmmakers would suggest that younger feminists would not be interested in such materials (despite the latters’ clear attempts to reach out to them nonetheless). The popular narrative of ‘feminism’s ritual matricide,’ as Faludi names it, remains quite strong. However, online reviews of Makers refuse such conclusions. Erica K. Landau at Bitch Media exclaims the archival site to be a necessity as feminism is too big for a three-hour documentary and still ongoing. Jill Filipovic at The Guardian, meanwhile, expresses gratefulness for the project and its women before asking where today’s digital feminists were and requesting readers comment upon which contemporary feminists they would have liked to see included in the film. This does not mean, however, that interested feminists of the present understand these archives’ preservations in the same light that their authors’ do or initially did. Their politics are usually not the same and they often refuse to consider themselves extensions or continuations of the women’s movement but that also need not mean that their interest in past feminisms wanes. In fact, as Kate Eichhorn points out, many women, especially queer women, born since the seventies have learned from older feminists’ archival impulses and because of this have been sure to archive their own work while also collecting and preserving radical feminist writings and art from before their time. In doing so, their private collections become meeting grounds of multiple feminist times, producing a temporal collage effect where similarities as well as differences get highlighted. Furthermore, Eichhorn claims that many volunteer-run feminist archives, such as the Lesbian Herstory Archives, have depended upon recruiting young volunteers to help keep their organizations afloat. They have been able to survive, Eichhorn argues, not by blindly clinging to their original principles of lesbian separatism and radical feminism but by augmenting such principles with those of their younger supporters. The Lesbian Herstory Archives, for example, has, due to the prompting of its younger volunteers, ‘made an effort to adapt to changing understandings of gender and sexuality (for example, by working to accommodate and accept the place of transgender women who identify as lesbians and transgender men who once identified as butch dykes)’ (Eichorn, 2013: 48-49). As second wave archives grow increasingly digital, there is a lot that younger feminists could contribute to the process, which could make it even more of a cross-temporal affair, rather than an appeal from one time to another. I, for one, devoted many hours of my summer two summers ago scanning the Janus/Aurora fanzines for their editor Jeanne Gomoll upon learning that this work was something she had been meaning to do but had not gotten around to yet. I did this not because I agreed with everything written within their pages (in fact, the many voices within them often do not agree with each other), but because I believed that the negotiations therein ought to be available to more than the few who still had stashes of them in their basements (and those of us persistent enough to seek them out and borrow copies), as they document the exciting attempts of second wave feminists to imagine entirely other worlds where life might one day be substantially different, an activity that I would argue continues to motivate not just feminists but many queer and otherwise oppressed people who live, love, organize, and create together. 
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 5 While the mother/daughter narratives might still dominate the popular imagination of cross-temporal feminist relations and the ‘wave’ metaphor, which for the most part keeps teleological historiographical logics in line, has been cemented by the establishment of ‘first wave’ and ‘second wave’ as topical categories by the Library of Congress (Hewitt, 2010: 8), those of us interested in continuing feminist history writing need not do so in a manner that continues the self-(mis)recognition on which each of these traditions, including Rich’s ‘re-vision,’ rely. As Alexandra Juhasz points out in a recent essay on Woman’s Building videos now housed in the Getty Archives, we are not who they imagined us to be (Juhasz, 2011: 109). I would add to this that, should gender, sexuality, and desire be completely restructured in a queer future, the surviving subjects will not be us either. However, if we understand that we have an ally in second wave feminism in this process of imagination, we can begin to revise ‘re-vision’ and read, watch, and listen to this history differently. With an eye and ear to potentiality and a queer commitment to repurposing, feminist historiography becomes no longer a matter of self-knowledge, self-birth or self-awakening but more a collective un-becoming, as what was and what is—both of which are imperfect and historically limited—think together what could be.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 1. For examples of woman of color feminisms, deconstructive feminism, and queer theory that have complicated this ahistorical and essentialist notion of “woman,” see Cherrie Moraga, ed., The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (Watertown: Persephone Press, 1981), bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (Cambridge: South End Press, 1981), Denise Riley, Am I That Name?”: Feminism and the Category of “Women” in History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), and Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), and Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998).
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 2. For examples of queer, postcolonial, and media studies contributions to alternative theorizations of temporality and historiography, see Heather Love, Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2007), Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010), José Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York and London: New York University Press, 2009), Kara Keeling, “Looking for M—: Queer Temporality, Black Political Possibility, and Poetry form the Future,” GLQ 15:4 (2009): 565-582, Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Time of History and the Times of Gods” In The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, edited by Lisa Lowe and David Lloyd (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1997), and Bliss Cum Lim, Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009).
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 1 3. See, for example, Kate Eichhorn, The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), Nancy A. Hewitt, ed., No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism (New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2010), Victoria Hemsworth, Feeling Women’s Liberation (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2013), and Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010).
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 4. In this regard, I am incredibly indebted to the work of José Muñoz, who tragically passed away much too soon while I was writing the first draft of this essay.
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 Filipovic, Jill. “Where were today’s digital feminists in ‘Women Who Make America’?” The Guardian. February 27, 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/women-who-make-america-digital-feminists
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Juhasz, Alexandra. “A Process Archive: The Grand Circularity of Woman’s Building Video.” In Doin’ It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building, edited by Meg Linton, Sue Maberry and Elizabeth Pulsinelli. Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, 2011.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Landau, Erica K. “New MAKERS Documentary is a Must-See on the Women’s Movement.” Bitch Media. February 20, 2013. http://bitchmagazine.org/post/new-makers-documentary-is-a-must-see-on-the-womens-movement