Message from the Chair and Director
The Women’s and Gender Studies department is currently in the process opening a Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming center to accompany some of the curricular revisions we are undertaking. These changes, which will reimagine 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 as well as current offerings at our benchmark schools. It is our hope, and the hope of the Women’s and Gender Studies advisory committee that meets biweekly, 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 on campus who routinely report that they do not feel represented at Berea College.
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, 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, or of the ways in which Trump’s America has revitalized (and codified) the patriarchy’s misogyny and sexism. In order to continue the work that the department has historically done to think about women and feminism, we are introducing new coursework in the spring like Dr. Lee’s feminist disability studies class, Dr. Caruthers’ class on black women artists, and my class about intersectional experiences of gender as well as critiques of intersectionality.
As part of the changes we are undertaking, we are re-branding the co-curricular programming — like the Peanut Butter and Gender series, now renamed “Gender Talk” — that previously transpired through the department, but which will now be hosted through the center. When thinking about a new name for the series, we wanted a name that would communicate some gravitas, to reflect the heavy lifting 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 speakers that we have brought/are bringing to campus this year for Gender Talk 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 communities Pedro DiPietro (November 2019); and scholar of gender-based violence in South Africa, Tiffany Willoughby-Herard (December 2019). Next semester, we’re hosting Che Gossett, who will talk about abolition and gender (January 2020); Mark Rifkin, who will speak about indigenous queer kinship (February 2020); Jasmine Syedullah, who will address the fugitive feminism of Harriet Jacobs (March 2020); and Glen Coultard, who will speak about red power feminism (April 2020). Each scholar is formidable in his or her or their own right, and we are very lucky to have secured these speakers! I am confident that we will continue to attract speakers who elevate the academic profile of the center. For example, we are excited to be in conversations with Susan Stryker, famed author of Transgender History, about bringing her to campus next September 2020. It is our hope that her visit will inaugurate the opening — the ‘hard launch’ — of our center. As for the other speakers we plan to invite next year, we will continue collaborate with our co-sponsors (like the Black Cultural Center, the Woodson Center, the Appalachian Center, the African and African American Studies department, the Asian Studies department, the Peace and Social Justice Studies department, and the Latinx Studies program) to bring formidable scholar-educators to Berea’s campus, and with Provost Linda Strong-Leek to identify co-curricular needs the institution might have (for example, as the election descends on Berea’s campus, we will want to host speaker who can speak to those divisions).
We’re also knee-deep in some other programming this semester which might interest you: we teamed up with Gender Inclusive Housing to host a “coming out” door on Draper quad for National Coming Out Day (October 11, 2019); hosted photo series about inclusive pronoun usage for Mountain Day (October 16, 2019); hosted a workshop series for faculty and staff at the center in October 2019 to think about inclusive pronoun usage; will host a teach-in and panel discussion to think about how sex, gender, and the movement for black life intersect (November 20, 2019); and will host an ‘open house’ to inaugurate the ‘soft launch’ of our center (November 21, 2019).
I hope you will agree that we have some exciting changes in store. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram (@wgsberea) 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
About the Department*
Women’s & Gender Studies (WGS) is an important field of study. It grew from the effort to understand gender roles and women’s historic struggle for justice throughout the world.
The WGS curriculum is interdisciplinary. Students examine the cultural construction of gender. They exercise a feminist critique of dominant power in relationships:
- economic and
- workshops and
Through these programs, faculty, staff and students learn about current developments in feminist scholarship.
The Women’s History Month Committee works with WGS to plan campus-wide events in March. These events celebrate women’s scholarship.
*Please note that this curriculum is currently under revision.
Did you know: We’re now a Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center! Visit us in Draper 106.
Celebrate the opening of our new center! Join us on Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 6-8pm in Draper 106 for an Open House featuring music, dancing, flower crown-making, face painting, free raffle, games, and light refreshments.
“Gender Talk” is a regular luncheon lecture series on issues of gender and culture. Distinguished scholars visit campus throughout the year. You can find recordings of these talks on our website, by navigating the panel on the right.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (teach-in 11:45am-1pm in Baird Lounge, panel 5-6pm in Draper 106)
If you Major in Women’s and Gender Studies …
Women’s and Gender Studies majors have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through
- independent study or
- a labor position as program assistant for the WGS department.