More than a thousand people attended the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Center for the Study of Women in Society, which took place November 7 – 9, 2013, at the Erb Memorial Union and featured two days of symposiums in addition to a documentary premiere and a keynote literary address. Held in collaboration with the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the ASUO Women’s Center, the celebration highlighted 40 years of research, teaching, creativity, and activism on the UO campus. [See more 40th Anniversary photos by Jack Liu]
Opening activities featured the world premiere of “Agents of Change,” a documentary by Gabriela Martínez and Sonia De La Cruz that chronicles the development of CSWS within the broader context of the women’s movement.
The “Women’s Stories, Women’s Lives” Symposium took a decade-by-decade look at feminist issues, featuring a mix of more than 20 scholars, teachers, students and activists who addressed themes of women’s rights; violence against women; women’s health, activism and policy; and education and employment.
The Sally Miller Gearhart “Worlds Beyond World” Feminist Science Fiction Symposium featured a tribute to its namesake, a feminist scholar, teacher, and writer of utopian science fiction—and was led off by a keynote address from Ursula K. Le Guin, the renowned author of The Left Hand of Darkness and other science fiction classics. This evening keynote, followed by a full day of panels, put the spotlight on UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, which is home to the most important archive of feminist science fiction authors in the country. In addition to Le Guin and Gearhart, several other authors who participated in panels have papers housed in the archives, including Kate Wilhelm and Molly Gloss. Donor Carla Blumberg backed the Gearhart Symposium.
Related events held during the 40th anniversary celebrations include:
- “From Entry-Level to Associate: Feminism, Jobs, and UO PhDs”—a breakfast for graduate students featuring visiting scholars and UO graduates Shannon Elizabeth Bell (assistant professor, sociology, University of Kentucky) and Charli Carpenter (associate professor, political science, University of Massachusetts–Amherst), with UO PhD candidate Miriam Abelson (sociology) in conversation with PhD students about their experiences on the job market, as assistant professors, and more.
- Breakfast and Conversation with Alexis Lothian, assistant professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, sponsored by the CSWS Queering Academic Studies RIG. Lothian’s interdisciplinary scholarship includes literature, media, and culture with a focus on speculative fiction, digital media, and online culture. You can read more about Alexis and her work at http://www.queergeektheory.org/ .
“The significance of this event lies in the research and leadership CSWS has provided on the UO campus for four decades,” said CSWS director Carol Stabile. “Since its beginnings as the Center for the Sociological Study of Women, CSWS has provided a home for interdisciplinary research on women and gender, supporting generations of graduate students, creating an environment on this campus that nurtures and provides a home for feminist research, and serving as a pool for leadership on issues of gender, race, and sexuality.”
UO English professor Mary Wood had this to say about the three days of events:
“I wanted to congratulate everyone involved on a fabulous 40th anniversary celebration. Not only was it incredibly well-planned and well-executed, but intellectually stimulating, at times emotionally powerful, and a fine example of community building both within the university and nationally. I was particularly blown away by Ursula K. Le Guin’s reading Friday evening, and by the program on Saturday. As someone who doesn’t read a lot of science fiction, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Beginning with the panel of undergraduates who had confronted Joanna Russ’s letters in Special Collections, the presentations were engaging and thought provoking. As I sat listening to Kate Wilhelm responding to questions from Larissa Lai, it dawned on me how phenomenal it was to have all these women writers—who have made and are making history—together in one room. Their thoughts on the male-dominated history of science fiction, on the need to keep writing towards utopia, on the explosion of sci-fi writing by women of color, and on the artificiality of drawing distinctions among ‘genres’ gave me so much to think about. I ended up buying several books that I can’t wait to read.”