chapter  9
18 Pages

Dorothy E. Smith: Report and Repression: Textual Hazards for Feminists in the Academy

This paper addresses the interaction of two texts at a juncture between two discourses: a feminist discourse critical of the academy, epitomized in the concept of a 'chilly climate' for women; and a juridical discourse, extending a quasi-legal language into the institutional setting of the academy and, in this instance, deployed by male faculty to force the withdrawal of a critical feminist review of their department. 1 These two texts are a sequence, the first a report, written by a committee chaired by Professor Somer Brodribb, a junior faculty member in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria and addressed to that Department; the second a letter from eight male tenured faculty members of the same department demanding from the junior faculty member an apology for and retraction of certain aspects of the report that they held to have impugned their reputations. These two texts opened debates and controversies, reviews and reports, and were fed into formal and informal networks in the academic community, in the women's movement in Canada and beyond, in networks among political scientists in Canada, and, very rapidly, into the discourses of the public sphere: news media, newspaper columns, and so forth.