The fourth issue of WILLA arrives at a time when affirmative action is under serious reconsideration, despite the fact that the last thirty years have seen advances for women in all fields, especially as students, teachers, administrators, scholars, writers. There are more texts written by women and more texts with girls as self-actualizing characters. But we have to be careful that "more" is not equated with"token." Remember that gender, knowledge, and democracy are inseparable. Knowledge makes better citizens who make a better democracy, and more than one half of our democracy consists of women whose full participation is guaranteed by our democratic principles. Tillie Olsen's long short story "Tell Me a Riddle" creatively summarizes democracy's aims, fore quality and equity always mean "that sense of mattering, of moving, and being moved, of being one and indivisible with the great of the past, with all that freed, ennobled." In democracy's class rooms all matters are ennobled by gaining and sharing knowledge by and about its citizens.
Indeed, the stated purpose of the Women in Literature and Life Assembly addresses democracy, gender, and knowledge. The Assembly's purpose is "to focus attention on the status and image of women and girls, men and boys, in order to further the cause of equal treatment of women and girls in the context of English language arts education; to focus attention on gender-related is sues in literacy teaching and learning; to advise the profession at large on issues relating to the roles and images of women; to act as a resource for NCTE and other groups; and to form liaisons with committees in other professional organizations." WILLA publishes a newsletter twice a year and this journal once a year to fulfill some of its purposes. In the works is an international conference on women in English and in Education cosponsored by WILLA. WILLA has published Guidelines for a Gender-Balanced Curriculum for Grades 7 through 12 and is readying for press Guidelines for a Gender-Balanced Curriculum: Pre-K to Grade 6.
WILLA is pleased to present the following: Dawn Haines' essay about how she sought and gained knowledge and encouragement from a writing group and her story that grew out of it; Lynn Butler-Kisber's essay on how groups worked together to improve the safety of women on campus; two essays on 19th century women--one by Deborah De Simone on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a feminist as notable in her day as Gloria Steinem is in ours, and the other by Michelle Mock Murton on the imprisonment of women's bodies and minds in the l9th century; Linda Cullum on motives and methods in teaching Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing"; Jeanne Gerlach's review of Brooke Kroeger's Nellie Bly, which details the courageous life of a world famous reporter who opened the doors of journalism for women; Rita Carey's poem "Premonition," and John Sutton's poem "Black Ice."