Spring 2020 Issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ)
Maria Rice Bellamy, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Karen Weingarten, Queens College, City University of New York
Priority Submission Deadline: March 1, 2019
To inherit is to receive, to gain, to be left with more. The term “inheritance” first brings to mind the bequeathing of property by a parent to a child. The exclusion of women from this form of inheritance has been a contested issue for millennia and figured prominently in the earliest feminist causes in the United States and other Western nations. Remarkably, women in many parts of the United States won the right to own and control property (inherited or purchased, be she single, married, or divorced) before they earned the rights of citizenship, particularly the right to vote. While this call for papers begins with these most conventional understandings of inheritance, the goal of the Inheritance issue of WSQ is to facilitate a conversation on the many meanings and complications of the term “inheritance” and of the processes and experiences of inheriting, including the multiplicity of things that can be inherited and the varied ways these things can be transmitted and received across generations.
We are seeking papers that take a critical and transgressive approach to any and all aspects of inheritance, which in its most basic form involves one who bequeaths, items passed down, and one who receives. Our consideration of inheritance then questions first who has the power to decide what is worthy to be passed down and who is worthy to receive? How is this power granted, questioned, and subverted? How do people divested of this power find alternative ways of leaving a legacy? Second, what gets passed down and what gets left out of the process of inheritance? What forms of inheritance are recognized—given significance—or not? What histories or memories are remembered—preserved, passed down—or not? What inheritances are lost and how do we reckon those losses? Finally, who receives and who is excluded from inheriting? Who are the winners and losers in generational transfers? What economic and social repercussions are experienced by persons excluded from inheritance, particularly women, people of color, immigrants, people without property, and persons with disabilities? How do these losses continue to be felt over the generations? How do we reckon the immaterial losses, such as names never recorded, art never created, writing never published?
Advances in reproductive technologies add further complications to our understanding of inheritance in the scientific realm of genetics and reproduction. Historically, women have been held responsible for the results of their reproductive labor, suffering the consequences for their offspring inheriting less desired features (gender, skin tone, etc.). More recently, and controversially, epigenetics has renewed this line of thinking to suggest that genetic expression in fetuses can change in response to environmental pressures (Wagner 2010; Moore 2015; Richardson 2017). Assisted reproductive technologies have broadened the questions of inheritance raised by adopted children to include children born through the donation of gametes and with the help of gestational surrogates. The creation of a child requires an egg, a sperm, and a uterus, but in our brave new world of reproductive technology, inheritance may come from three (rather than two) parties, further complicating questions of nature versus nurture. Are we products of the genes we inherit, of the environments in which we are gestated and raised, or of some unknown combination of these factors?
Because Inheritance coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Feminist Press, we also seek submissions considering the role of the archive and of feminist and reconstructionist efforts in recovering losses from more traditional and hegemonic experiences of inheritance. How have these scholarly and creative efforts redefined inheritance and engendered the language and form to represent newer and more inclusive understandings of inheritance? How has the Feminist Press’s recovery work transformed literary and creative histories so that writers and readers can inherit a canon that reflects once lost writings? How has this recovery work traced a different lineage of literary inheritance and what work is there still left to do?
We invite submissions from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences as well as interdisciplinary approaches. We welcome papers that are theoretical, conceptual, or empirical on a wide variety of topics related to inheritance, including but not limited to the following:
- Histories and cultural understandings of inheritance and how these have changed or been subverted over time
- Racism, sexism, classism, and ableism in the mechanisms of inheritance
- Subversion of racial, gendered, and classed norms in inheritance
- Citizenship and the inheritance of political privilege
- Disenfranchisement and the inheritance of political and economic disadvantage
- The inheritance and consequence of debt
- Reparations for the denial of inheritance
- Inheritance of ancestral, cultural, and traumatic memory
- Familial inheritance, memory, keepsakes, secrets, silences
- Generational inheritance, particularly from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s
- Literary traditions inherited and lost
- Historical and cultural inheritances represented in contemporary culture and society
- Intellectual inheritance and the archive
- Legacy preferences at elite universities and the inheritance of educational privilege
- The role of inheritance in adoption, especially cross-cultural and cross-racial
- Complications to inheritance in assisted reproductive technologies, donor gametes (egg, sperm), donor embryos, and gestational surrogates
- Inheritance in nontraditional or nonheteronormative families
- The science of inheritance and its implication in eugenics
- The theory of epigenetics and its influence on the way we understand reproduction, pregnancy, and women’s bodies
- The politics and popularity of genealogy and consumer DNA tests
PRIORITY DEADLINE: MARCH 1, 2019
Scholarly articles and inquiries should be sent to guest issue editors Maria Rice Bellamy and Karen Weingarten at WSQInheritanceIssue@gmail.com. We will give priority consideration to submissions received by March 1, 2019. Submissions should not exceed 6,360 words (including abstract, keywords, unembedded notes, captions, and works cited) and should comply with the Feminist Press’s formatting guidelines. Please send complete articles, not abstracts. We prefer Microsoft Word file formats. Please provide all contact information in the body of the e-mail. We do not accept work that has been previously published or under review at another journal.
Poetry submissions related to the issue theme should be sent to WSQ’s poetry editor Patricia Smith at WSQpoetry@gmail.com by March 1, 2019. Please review previous issues of WSQ to see what type of submissions we prefer before submitting poems. Please note that poetry submissions may be held for six months or longer. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable if the poetry editor is notified immediately of acceptance elsewhere. We do not accept work that has been previously published. Please paste poetry submissions into the body of the e-mail along with all contact information.
Fiction, essay, memoir, and translation submissions related to the issue theme between 2000 and 2500 words should be sent to WSQ’s fiction/nonfiction editor, Rosalie Morales Kearns, at WSQCreativeProse@gmail.com by March 1, 2019. Please review previous issues of WSQ to see what type of submissions we prefer before submitting prose. Please note that prose submissions may be held for six months or longer. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable if the prose editor is notified immediately of acceptance elsewhere. We do not accept work that has been previously published. Please provide all contact information in the body of the e-mail.