About the "Storytelling for Social Change" Issue

Welcome to the Spring 2020 issue of Rejoinder, an online journal published by the Institute for Research on Women (IRW) at Rutgers University in partnership with The Feminist Art Project.

This issue of Rejoinder seeks to explore the relationship between storytelling and social change. Storytelling has long been an important feminist tool, used by participants in consciousness raising groups, as well as scholars such as standpoint theorists, critical race feminists and feminist ethicists. Stories have helped feminists counter dominant narratives, reveal hidden power dynamics, develop epistemologies, and build solidarity. The practice of feminist storytelling has never been confined to the academy, and in fact storytelling is increasingly an important part of progressive campaigns intended to bring about social justice by swaying “hearts and minds.”

When we distributed our call for papers last fall, we did not anticipate that we would be publishing this issue of Rejoinder in the middle of a global pandemic, a catastrophe that is already shaping feminist stories on themes that range from pain and loss to survival and futurity. Political struggle will play a role in determining which Covid-19 stories resonate strongly in the months ahead, and which dissipate or are suppressed. But as this issue of Rejoinder shows, stories are often complicated, sometimes even ambiguous; their telling has disparate effects and their reception is contingent on the listener. They can forge group identity and be used to change law or policy. But on other occasions they are not heard, or they are overly burdensome, co-opted, or put to harmful ends.

We hope that you enjoy the thought-provoking collection of articles, poetry, and art in the fifth issue of Rejoinder. We extend deep thanks to all our contributors. We also thank Madeline Williams, Eddie Konczal, Connie Tell, and Nik Ianuzelli for their help with this issue. Please subscribe to Rejoinder to receive future issues and join our email list to learn more about IRW.

Sarah Tobias

Andrea Zerpa
Art Editor