Message from the Chair and Director
The Women’s and Gender Studies department opened a Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center in Fall 2019 to accompany some of the curricular revisions we are undertaking. These changes, which will re/imagine how the major and minor operate, as well as what is taught in the introductory class and capstone, will reflect current trends in the field and current offerings at our benchmark schools. It is our hope, and the hope of the Women’s and Gender Studies advisory committee that met biweekly during the Fall 2019 semester, and the hope of Provost Linda Strong Leek, that together, these changes — the introduction of a new center as well as new course offerings — will attract the burgeoning number of gay, trans, queer, and non-binary students who have flocked to Berea College in recent years but who routinely report that they do not feel represented on campus.
To be sure, our work on behalf of these students will not obviate or obscure the important work that is still needed and which we are still doing to think about women. Indeed, as a department, we are under no illusions about a post-women moment, not least of all because there are still structural inequities in place that circumscribe women’s lives and the lives of their children and families. Women (especially, women of color) still experience a pay gap and the glass ceiling, and they still experience sexism and assault, to say nothing of the intersectional ways in which women experience oppression.
As part of the changes we are undertaking, we are re-branding the co-curricular programming — like the Peanut Butter and Gender series, now named “Gender Talk” — that previously transpired through the department, but which will now be hosted through the center. When thinking about the series, we wanted a name that would communicate some gravitas, to reflect the heavy lifting that our invited guests are doing to re/imagine gender. At the same time, we hoped that the name change would forge some – what feminist theorist Karen Barad describes as – ‘common-unity’ with similar identity studies programming on campus, like the “Truth Talk” series hosted through the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education.
Some of the scholars that we brought to campus last Fall 2019 semester for the Gender Talk series include: Appalachian poet of queer sexuality Savannah Sipple (September 2019); scholars of black queer genders and sexualities Marquis Bey and Tabias Olajuawon Wilson (October 2019); scholar of Latinx travesti culture Pedro DiPietro (November 2019); and scholar of gender-based violence in South Africa Tiffany Willoughby-Herard (December 2019). This Spring 2020 semester, we enthusiastically hosted Mark Rifkin (February 2020), who spoke queer indigenous kinship. We will also host Jasmine Syedullah (March 2020), who will address the fugitive feminism of Harriet Jacobs; and Glen Coultard (April 2020), who will speak about red power feminisms. I am confident that we will continue to attract scholars who elevate the academic profile of the center. Next year, Susan Stryker, famed author of Transgender History (Seal Press, 2008), and scholar-activist Che Gossett, whose research intervenes in black queer and trans aesthetics, racial capitalism, and the politics of abolition, are among the speakers who will join us for Gender Talk.
In addition, and in an effort to engage the robust scholarship that is already underway at Berea College, the Gender Talk series will regularly host a respondent for each talk. This year, Dr. Meredith Lee (WGS), Dr. Gwendolyn Ferreti (Latinx Studies), Dr. Gale Greenlee (English), Dr. Broughton Anderson (Art/Art History), Dr. Jessica Klanderud (AFR), and myself (WGS) have responded/will respond to the generative remarks that our speakers prepared/will prepare. You can view the full Gender Talk calendar and videos of past Gender Talk events by navigating the panel to the right (or by clicking this link).
Some of the other programming that the center hosted last Fall 2019 semester include: a “coming out” door on Draper quad, in collaboration with Gender Inclusive Housing, for National Coming Out Day, (October 11, 2019); a photo series about inclusive pronoun usage for Mountain Day (October 16, 2019); a workshop series for faculty and staff about inclusive pronoun usage (October 2019); a teach-in and panel discussion to think about how sex, gender, and the movement for black life intersect (November 20, 2019); and an ‘open house’ to inaugurate the launch of our center (November 21, 2019). This semester, the Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center introduced a new series, which we are affectionately calling “Evening with an Activist,” in which student activists share their stories and strategies with the campus community. You can view the Evening with an Activist series’ calendar and event descriptions by navigating the panel to the right (or by clicking this link).
You can also expect some programming from the department. The Women’s and Gender Studies department has relaunched its monthly colloquium series this semester. Our February colloquium event featured a timely conversation about pending changes to the WGS curriculum. Other colloquium events this semester and next will feature WGS alumni; feminists who merge creative business practices with social justice activism; and present and former faculty who can speak about the history of gender equity at the college, as well as the history of the WGS department specifically. You can view the full colloquium calendar below.
I hope you will agree that we have some exciting changes in store. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram (@wgsberea) or subscribe to our monthly newsletter (email firstname.lastname@example.org) to stay up to date with our programming and curricular revisions!
Warmly, and with enthusiasm,
Dr. M. Shadee Malaklou
Chair, Women’s and Gender Studies
Director, Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center
Please note: As a precautionary measure in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, instruction has ceased at Berea College. Our programming is thus suspended for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.
Women’s and Gender Studies Colloquium
Wednesday, February 12 (12-1pm) in Draper 106: Changes to the Women’s and Gender Studies curriculum, with Professors M. Shadee Malaklou and Meredith Lee
Wednesday, March 25 (12-1pm) in Draper 106: How to leverage a Women’s and Gender Studies degree, with the first WGS alumnus Professor Tammy Clemons
Wednesday, April 8 (12-1pm) in Draper 106: Feminist entrepreneurship and empowerment, with WGS alumnus and local success coach and Angela Anderson
Please note: As a precautionary measure in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, instruction has ceased at Berea College. Our programming is thus suspended for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. Tammy Clemons’ and Angela Anderson’s colloquium events will be rescheduled for the 2020-2021 academic year.