Shaking up Academia

The St Hilda’s Feminist Salon founder on why she set it up.


Feminism is not only about theory. Feminist artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, novelists, journalists, activists, campaigners and everyday resistors all produce knowledge about what feminism is and how it should be practiced.

In academia, we tend to stick to our little silos, instead of branching out and learning from each other. And we often don’t interact with feminists outside the academy at all.

The St Hilda’s Feminist Salon aims to break down those barriers.

Not only are we bringing feminists from different backgrounds and ways of life together, but we also aim to shake up the format of how we talk about feminism. The traditional academic format, of a presentation followed by a Q&A session, works fine in many contexts. But how else can we talk about feminism? What other formats can we use? Can we be less hierarchical?

That is why a guest host is invited, to decide how they want to format the salon. We are not prescriptive about how the guest hosts format the salon, because there are so many amazing feminists out there, with brilliant, intelligent and creative minds, that we want to leave it up to them and be surprised and challenged by what they come up with. Each host will bring something new and different.

Historically, salons were a place where women could learn about art, politics and culture. St Hilda’s women’s college was founded as a space for women to access the university education that was previously denied to them. Both St Hilda’s and the salon format have a place in feminist history and its future.

Both spaces were historically elitist, but the internet allows us to open up the space for anyone to take part. We invite you to send in questions for our hosts on Facebook, Twitter or via the website before the salon, and you can listen to a recording of each salon the next day.

Radical critique of the status quo from a feminist perspective continues to be needed in the world today. The St Hilda’s feminist salon will be part of that conversation. We hope you can join us!


Maeve McKeown is a Junior Research Fellow in Political Theory at St Hilda’s college, Oxford.

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