Members of the AHA! (Autonomous Hamilton Affinity) group Killjoy Studies: Feminist Praxis Towards a More Just Academy recently conducted a roundtable discussion at the annual National Women’s Studies Association conference in San Francisco. Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Anne Lacsamana, Assistant Professor of Literature Pavitra Sundar, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Joyce Barry led “Killing Joy: Feminist Epistemologies and Praxis in the Neoliberal Academy.”
The roundtable was influenced by Sarah Ahmed’s book Living a Feminist Life (Duke, 2017) and her construction of the killjoy figure to describe the moment when feminists quite literally kill “joy” by critiquing acts of injustice that often go unnoticed. Focusing on particular faculty initiatives and responsibilities as well as curricular policies, group members discussed what it means to be “diversity workers” doing “diversity work” in higher education today.
Barry said that the Killjoy Studies AHA! Group, has been reading Living a Feminist Life in order to think more critically about diversity and diversity workers in the academy, and how this work relates to Ahmed’s conception of the killjoy figure.
Additional members of the Killjoy Studies group include Professor of Comparative Literature Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, Professor of Anthropology Chaise LaDousa, Assistant Professor of History Celeste Day Moore, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Mariam Durrani, and Lecturer in Sociology Meredith Madden.
Now in its second year of study, the group plans to publish a scholarly article based on their collective work.
The AHA! program was created in 2018 by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen as a way to bring groups of faculty together for mutually beneficial faculty development projects. For 2019-20, there are 10 groups working on projects.