Common Reading selects 'Feminist Futures' theme for 2023-24

Feminist Futures.

From Around the O—The Common Reading program will partner with the UO’s Center for the Study of Women in Society during 2023-24, with multiple title selections and associated programming centered on the theme “Feminist Futures: Research on Women and Gender in Society.” 

The center is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout the year with invited speakers and presenters, exhibits and films, authors and their books, performances, and events that speak to intersectional feminist research, at a time of fraught social, political and environmental landscapes, both nationally and globally. 

The Common Reading program accepted an invitation to support and amplify the center’s efforts. Rather than a single book selection, Common Reading will select multiple titles, all of which tie into the center’s programming and focus on feminism, gender and women’s rights.

“A core component of Common Reading’s mission is to build community, spark conversations across campus, and enhance research and curriculum,” said Julie Voelker-Morris, Common Reading director.  “This partnership will allow us to leverage broader university involvement in these thought-provoking and topical titles.” 

Among the titles that Common Reading has selected:

  • “The Turnaway Study” by Diana Greene Foster, a professor at University of California, San Francisco: A landmark research study that documents the outcomes for women who received and were denied an abortion. Common Reading will sponsor an author conversation with Foster during fall term 2023.
  • “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence” by Anita Hill: A memoir and manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in society. Hill will give the Lorwin Lecture on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the UO during spring term 2024.
  • “The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor” and “The Diana Chronicles” by Tina Brown: Two behind-the-scenes accounts of the British royal family written by a journalist and former media executive. The School of Journalism and Communication will host Brown in a joint speaker event during winter term 2024. 
  • Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi and “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Literary agent Anjali Singh, who helped launch both books to prominence, will appear at a UO comics studies joint speaker event and workshop in fall term 2023. 

The Center for the Study of Women in Society has funded feminist scholarship at the UO since 1973, with the mission of creating and sharing research that addresses the complicated nature of gender identities and inequalities.

As the center looks ahead to its next five decades during its anniversary celebrations, it will explore both the promises for and the imperilment of “feminist futures.”

“The three principles of reproductive justice — the right to have a child, the right not to have a child, and most importantly the right to parent children in safe and healthy environments — is at the very core of feminist futurities and a primary focus of research and activism at CSWS,” said professor Sangita Gopal, director of the center. “We are so honored to partner with Common Reading to explore issues of reproductive justice as exemplified by the book selections for this year that research this issue from multiple disciplinary perspectives.”

Common Reading will encourage faculty members and staff to incorporate the selected works and the “Feminist Futures” theme into courses and programming throughout the school year.

In a typical year, more than 5,000 members of the UO community choose to participate in Common Reading, primarily first-year students. The program began in the Clark Honors College in 2009 and became a campuswide program in 2014, within the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success.

Every year, the program solicits suggestions from the entire UO campus as it begins searching for selections, which can be books, essays, podcasts, documentaries or another creative or research work. The program often embraces topical subjects of concern to those in high schools and universities, to help students engage and hone critical thinking skills while respectfully engaging in difficult topics.

From there, an advisory committee of campus partners, faculty, students and program administrators considers anywhere from 50 to 200 recommended titles before narrowing the choices down and making final selections. During that process, the committee consults with faculty members, staff, administrators and students who are not committee members.

The Common Reading advisory committee will now begin the process of selecting a theme and suggested titles for the following cycle and the 2024-25 academic year. Suggestions are welcome and are currently being accepted.

By Saul Hubbard, University Communications