Katie King began thinking about feminism and writing technologies while working in the early 80s on her dissertation, which was on academic editorial practices and feminist political practices making these interesting literary objects sometimes called “poems.” She looked specifically at the literary productions and literary histories of Emily Dickinson and Audre Lorde and the social and institutional practices that shaped their work to look like what folks in their time periods and cohorts of action would call “poems.”
Earlier, throughout the 70s, as an undergraduate in California and then as a graduate student at the University of Chicago King had studied ancient Greek and Old English epic poetry, and then the work of Chaucer, with an eye to investigating oral formulaic poetry. The theoretical approach she took in her dissertation later in the 80s was inspired by the work of her teacher, Donna Haraway, and her analyses of feminist primate researchers, although the methods she used were necessarily rather different in examining literary objects and became elements of her talk about feminism and writing technologies. King was particularly helped by Haraway’s transformations of the work of Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar’s anthropology of the scientific laboratory in their book, Laboratory Life.
King’s Feminism and Writing Technologies was an early MITH Faculty Fellow project which featured a virtual 17th-century Quaker women’s printshop designed to plumb more fully (by reconfiguring objects of study) the intertwinings of print and digital distributions of knowledge production and their implications for research in the twenty-first century university.