EMILIA-AMALIA How to Ask a Question: a five-session arc on taking and giving authority

EMILIA-AMALIA How to Ask a Question: a five-session arc on taking and giving authority

February 8, 11:00PM to August 1, 1:00AM

Inspired by Kyla Wazana Thompkins’s essay, “We Aren’t Here to Learn What We Already Know,” the next five sessions will explore strategies for asking questions as a political and feminist practice.

In this next chapter, EMILIA-AMALIA shifts our focus from reading texts together to writing and acting together. These sessions will examine how feminism can manifest in a daily “practice of doing” that allows participants to take space and make space for one another’s experiences.  Each session will consider the different modes of questioning that shape our relation to the world, to ourselves and to our feminisms.


  • What are the questions we need to ask to learn what we don’t already know?
  • How can questions work to dismantle white supremacy and give authority to the voices and experiences of women of colour, indigenous peoples and trans* communities?
  • Who has been marginalized and obscured in the conventional history of Anglo-American second wave feminism, and how do we refuse to inherit these legacies?
  • What could we learn from other generations of feminists if we asked the right questions?
  • If equality is insufficient as a goal because it presumes a sameness between women, how can we stage disparity and difference as generative forces in our relationships with one another?
  • What does it mean to take up space on the page, online, in public forums by asking questions?
  • What does visibility and vocality mean in a post-Internet age of hyper-visualization?
  • How can we shift public conversations by taking the authority to ask meaningful questions and to actively challenge racist, sexist, classist, and transmisogynist statements?

Upcoming sessions will pose these questions, and invite many more through writing activities, group discussions, film screenings, a workshop on oral histories/interviewing, and public interventions. “How to Ask A Question” will culminate in a series of chapbooks, featuring reports by invited writers and contributions from participants based on the in-session writing activities, published in June 2017. All are welcome to join the sessions, regardless of past participation. 


Session VII — We Aren’t Here to Learn What We Already Know  
Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017, 6-9 pm, Gallery 44

Following Kyla Wazana Thompkins’s call for questions that “move from theory to the world,” this session will consider the kinds of questions we want to pose to texts, to ourselves, and to one another. Deploying her strategy of editing and revising questions, the writing activity invites participants to craft questions that might serve as mandates for the future work of the group.

To participate in this workshop, please RSVP to Leila Timmins at leila@gallery44.org.

- Text: Kyla Wazana Thompkins’s “We Aren’t Here to Learn What We Already Know” (please read beforehand): http://avidly.lareviewofbooks.org/2016/09/13/we-arent-here-to-learn-what-we-know-we-already-know/
- Writing activity: What can we ask of feminism?

Session VIII — Questioning Images
Thursday, March 2, 2017, 6-9 pm, Trinity Square Video

A writing session responding to five image or filmic prompts.

Session IX — Oral Histories/Interviewing  
A two-part session:  
Tuesday, April 4, 6-9 pm and Monday, April 17, 6-9 pm, Gallery 44

With a guest facilitator

Working with the guest facilitator, participants learn the basics of oral history collection and interviewing and then are tasked with developing questions they would like to ask another feminist who they feel they could learn something from. In the second part, participants report back on their experiences of interviewing and share transcriptions and recordings of the results. Participants should commit to both sessions. 

June 2017: Launch of EMILIA-AMALIA chapbooks (Date and location TBC)

Session X — Our Future Network with Alex Martinis Roe and Federica Bueti
June 2017, date TBC, Gallery 44

Session XI — This is a Two-Part Question: Asking questions in public
July 2017, dates TBC, Gallery 44

A two-part session on how to ask a question in a public space, including a feminist takeover of a public Q&A session.


EMILIA–AMALIA is an exploratory working group that employs practices of citation, annotation, and autobiography as modes of activating feminist art, writing and research practices. Through readings, screenings, discussions, and writing activities, the group will investigate historical and intergenerational feminisms, as well as relationships of mentorship, collaboration, and indebtedness between artists, writers, thinkers, curators, and practitioners. In tracing these lines, the group aims to elucidate the histories of feminism that have been obscured and overlooked in the narratives of 1970s, or “second-wave” feminism that we have inherited.

EMILIA–AMALIA critically examines how we fit in with these past iterations, and also, how we might update and extend them so that they can respond to contemporary questions. Motivated by a desire to think through these questions collaboratively, each monthly meeting is structured around a text, a conversation, and a writing activity.

EMILIA–AMALIA is an open group that invites all levels of engagement. We are all experts. No one is an expert. Expertise is not expected.

EMILIA–AMALIA is initiated by Cecilia Berkovic, Annie MacDonell, Gabrielle Moser, Leila Timmins, and cheyanne turions and is hosted by Gallery 44.