The Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on under-known and under-appreciated feminist texts, movements and struggles from outside the Anglo-American feminist tradition. The group was established in March 2015 by Helena Reckitt, at Goldsmiths, University of London and relocated in July 2015 to SPACE in Hackney, East London where it was hosted until April 2019. In June 2019, the group began a year-long residency at the South London Gallery focused on intersectional feminisms in the UK context.

FDRG sessions have been organised with Emilia-Amalia at Art Metropole in Toronto; in London at the Barbican Art Centre; Mimosa House, AntiUniversity; as part of The Table at the Swiss Church; and elsewhere in the UK at Grand Union, Birmingham; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea; and Hypatia Trust, Penzance.           

Currently the group meets once a month, alternately on the second Wednesday of the month at 7pm at the South London Gallery, and the second Saturday of the month at 4pm a non-institutional venue.

The FDRG welcomes feminists of all genders and generations to explore the legacy and resonance of art, thinking and collective practice from earlier periods of feminism, in dialogue with contemporary practices and movements.

Working Group

FDRG activities are initiated by a Working Group. Current members are:

Giulia Antonioli, Angelica Bollettinari, Beth Bramich, Lina Džuverović, Lily Evans-Hill, Sabrina Fuller, Haley Ha, Félicie Kertudo, Mariana Lemos, Ceren Özpinar, Sara Paiola, Helena Reckitt, Ehryn Torrell and Fiona Townend.

Contact us:

If you would like to join the reading group mailing list or propose a focus for a session, or invite us to lead a meeting, please contact: feministduration@gmail.com 

Kyla Wazana Tompkins: We Aren't Here to Learn What We Already Know

Kyla Wazana Tompkins: We Aren't Here to Learn What We Already Know

Emilia-Amalia Session III: We Aren’t Here to Learn What We Already Know, Toronto,  8 February 2017.

Emilia-Amalia Session III: We Aren’t Here to Learn What We Already Know, Toronto, 8 February 2017.

Tue 4 Apr, 7pm
SPACE Mare Street

led by Helena Reckitt in collaboration with Gabby Moser of EMILIA-AMALIA

I tell my students: theory is both descriptive of the world we live in and speculative as well, in that it seeks new worlds and new language to understand what seems to be “natural” and “normal.” If the ideas that theory wants to express were easy to say, they would not need to be said. The work of undoing what you know, or what you think you know, is hard. You’re going to have to work hard. “We aren’t here to learn what we already know.”  Kyla Wazana Tompkins

This meeting is inspired by US-based Kyla Wazana Tompkins’ 2016 essay ‘We Aren’t Here to Learn What We Already Know.’ Drawing on her experience teaching feminist, queer and minoritarian-based classrooms, Tompkins explores ways of stimulating openness, dialogue and criticality in the classroom, starting by asking: what is a good question, and how do you ask it?

The text is available here

Emphasizing the importance of close, repeat reading, and of reading out loud in group contexts, Tompkins stresses learning’s active, conversational and collective nature. Her essay highlights the role played by tactics of annotation and citation in both forging new knowledges and revisiting earlier texts and positions.  It reflects on complex processes entailed in cultural exclusion, inclusion, and assimilation. While recognising that personal intuitions, feelings, and memories often stimulate important questions, Tompkins underscores the need for these personal associations to move beyond the strictly subjective realm in order to question and analyse larger structural and systemic issues.
Tompkins’ approach resonates in many ways with that taken by the Feminist Duration Reading Group towards the collective exploration of overlooked feminist texts, struggles and ideas. In contrast to most Feminist Duration Reading Group meetings – where participants read the text out loud on the night, and advance reading is not required – for this session people were instructed to read the essay beforehand and to follow Tompkins’ instructions:
- Read the text three times: once to get a mental map of the article/chapter/ paper; once to get the gist of the argument; and once to find your questions.
- Take notes in the margins: mess with the text. Underline, star, jot down questions.
- Take a break.
- Think about the pieces of the text, phrases, expressions, moments that tweak your instincts, that bother and harass you. These intuitions and “feelings” are the ends of intellectual threads that you may want to excavate.
- Linger over passages that are unclear or that strike you as particularly helpful or that don’t jar well with you. Why do those passages set off your instincts?
- Relate those passages to the whole text: how is this piece of the text part of a larger context?
This meeting follows an earlier session based around Tompkins’ text developed by the Emilia-Amalia Working Group in Toronto. It is restaged with gratitude as a form of virtual collaboration. In a follow-up exercise we will draw on Tompkins’ text to explore how to ask a good question about feminism, and how those questions might provoke further conversation and discussion.

Questioning Through Writing

Questioning Through Writing

Islamic Feminisms

Islamic Feminisms