On May 2, the Wesleyan Symposium on Risk brought together faculty and students for an interdisciplinary discussion of risk. The event was sponsored by American Studies, the Center for the Humanities, the College of Letters, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, the Science in Society Program, and the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies support funds. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)
Tag Archive for Feminist Gender and Sexuality Studies
by Laurie Kenney •
On May 2, The Female Voice in Politics Conference brought notable and accomplished female politicians and leaders together at Daniel Family Commons in Usdan University Center to discuss the underrepresentation of women in U.S. politics and other issues facing women in the political arena today. Speakers included Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut; Connecticut State Sen. Toni Boucher; Dominique Thornton, former mayor of Middletown; Susan Bysiewicz, former Connecticut Secretary of State; Sidney Powell, attorney and author of Licensed to Lie; and Sarah Wiliarty, director of the Public Affairs Center, associate professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Sciences. The event was organized by Darcie Binder ’15 and Kevin Winnie ’16 and supported by the Government Department, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, Public Affairs Center, American Studies Department, History Department, and Feminism, Gender and Sexuality Studies. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16.)
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Victoria Pitts-Taylor, chair and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, joined the faculty this fall.
Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Professor Pitts-Taylor! What attracted you to Wesleyan?
A: Wesleyan has a great tradition of progressive liberal arts education, including a long tradition of feminist/gender/sexuality studies. Like most programs, it began as women’s studies, more than three decades ago, evolving into its current form as times and perspectives changed. Wesleyan has a reputation for having really smart, socially engaged students, for fostering interest in and commitment to social justice, and for investing in interdisciplinary modes of scholarship and teaching. It’s also full of incredibly accomplished professors, people whom I’d like to read, talk to and learn from.
Q: You came to Wesleyan from the City University of New York. What did your position at CUNY entail?
A: I was at the City University of New York for 15 years – almost my whole academic career since getting my Ph.D. at Brandeis University. I started as an assistant professor in the sociology program at Queens College (part of CUNY) in 1999, and after I received tenure I also began teaching in the doctoral program at the Graduate Center. In 2009, I was promoted to full professor – that was a big deal for me at the age of 36, and I thought back then that I’d probably stay at CUNY forever. But that year, I also became director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society and Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Doctoral Certificate Program at the Graduate Center. I served two terms as head of those programs. I am a sociologist by training and orientation, but over the years I became more deeply involved in gender and sexuality studies. In addition to heading the women’s studies program, I also served as co-editor of the journal Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ) for three years. That experience, along with getting involved in the Feminist Press (which publishes WSQ), team-teaching a feminist theory course with a Victorianist, and getting interested in feminist science studies, convinced me that I wanted to be part of a gender studies program.
Q: What has been your impression of the university, and the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies program in particular, so far? How is it different from CUNY?
A: When I walked into my Biofeminisms course, I expected to see a group of juniors and seniors majoring in FGSS. Instead, I got a class filled with biologists, economists and neuroscientists, most of whom had never taken an FGSS class before. Two things strike me about this. First, at most places, the science majors (not to mention the econ majors) wouldn’t often find their way to a gender studies course.
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan students participated in Bend it at Beckham Aug. 29 in Beckham Hall. Students were encouraged to bend the gender binary by expressing gender through a variety of ways. The party was DJ’d by Ron Jacobs ’16 and Abhimanyu Janamanchi ’17. (Photos by Harry Jiang ’18)
by Olivia Drake •
Professor Lori Gruen is the co-editor of a new book titled Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, published by Bloomsbury Academic in July 2014.
Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. She also co-coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies.
In this 288-page book, leading feminist scholars and activists introduce and explore themes central to contemporary ecofeminism.
Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth first offers an historical, grounding overview that situates ecofeminist theory and activism and provides a timeline for important publications and events. This is followed by contributions from leading theorists and activists on how our emotions and embodiment can and must inform our relationships with the more than human world. In the final section, the contributors explore the complexities of appreciating difference and the possibilities of living less violently. Throughout the book, the authors engage with intersections of gender and gender non-conformity, race, sexuality, disability and species.
The result is a new up-to-date resource for students and teachers of animal studies, environmental studies, feminist/gender studies, and practical ethics.
Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies, and coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies recently edited a new book, The Ethics of Captivity. The book explores the various conditions of captivity for humans and for other animals and examines ethical themes that imprisonment raises. Chapters written by those with expert knowledge about particular conditions of captivity discuss how captivity is experienced. The book also contains new essays by philosophers and social theorists that reflect on the social, political, and ethical issues raised by captivity.
One topic covered in many chapters in the book is zoos. Gruen recently published on Oxford University Press’s blog about the high-profile killing of a two-year-old giraffe named Marius by the Copenhagen Zoo because his genes were already “well-represented” in Europe’s giraffe population. His body was autopsied in public and fed to lions. Those lions, an adult pair and their two cubs, were later killed to make room for a younger male lion that was not related to any of the captive female lions.
Gruen writes that while zoos were originally designed to entertain visitors, they have increasingly expanded their roles to include conservation and education due to the heightened awareness of endangered species and the danger of extinction. Zoos tend to place more value in the overall genetic diversity of a captive population than on the well-being of an individual animal. Gruen suggests that seeing animals as disposable may undermine conservation efforts. That attitude towards animals is part of what has lead to so many wild animals to be threatened. She reminds us that “Causing death is what zoos do. It is not all that they do, but it is a big part of what happens at zoos, even if this is usually hidden from the public. Zoos are institutions that not only purposely kill animals, they are also places that in holding certain animals captive, shorten their lives. Some animals, such as elephants and orca whales, cannot thrive in captivity and holding them in zoos and aquaria causes them to die prematurely.” Some of the chapters in the upcoming book explore how zoos affect animals in the zoos and the people who watch those animals.
Click here to learn more about the book or to purchase it.
Gruen also wrote a post on OUP Blog based on the book.
by Mike Sembos •
Natasha Korda, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, faculty fellow and professor of English, authored “Coverture and Its Discontents: Legal Fictions On and Off the Early Modern English Stage” published in Married Women and the Law in England and the Common Law World published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2013.
She also is the author of “The Sign of the Last: Gender, Material Culture and Artisanal Nostalgia in Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday” included in the special issue on “Medieval and Early Modern Artisan Culture” published in The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies in 2013.
by Bill Fisher •
In this video, Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy; professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; professor of environmental studies, talks about the ethics of caring for chimpanzees who have been subjected to invasive biomedical research. She discusses recent positive developments in the movement to retire to sanctuaries the last 1,000 federally-supported research chimpanzees in the United States. Professor Gruen maintains the website www.last1000chimps.com to track the movement of the remaining research chimps in the U.S. from labs to retirement. Find more information about Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary where many research chimps live in retirement, at www.chimphaven.org.
by David Pesci •
In this issue we ask “5 Questions” of Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, associate professor of science in society, and associate professor feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
Q: Professor Tucker, you started off with an undergrad degree in biology but you’re on the History Department’s faculty here and specialize in, among other areas, Victorian London and British cultural history. How did your interest evolve in these directions?
A: I entered college with a strong interest in history, but I also loved science courses. At Stanford I combined a major in the neurosciences of visual perception and memory with coursework in history of science and history of art. After receiving a Marshall Scholarship to study at Cambridge University, I completed graduate work in the history of science, focusing on, among other things, issues of visual representation in scientific and popular culture. The time I spent in the UK made up my mind to continue the study of history; talking with other historians of science sparked my desire to understand the power of visual communication in scientific and technological cultures and to engage the sciences as historically evolving practices – two interests that still invigorate my teaching and research. Most of my scholarship and teaching concentrates on British history during the 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when people around the world were experimenting with new visual technologies, such as photography and cinema. In addition to teaching general courses in British history and history of science, I also direct seminars and thesis research at Wesleyan on various topics in the history of science and visual communication. Some of the courses I teach include “Evolution, Pictures and Publics,” “Scientific Visualization in Western Culture from Leonardo’s Drawings to MRIs,” “10 Photographs That Shook the World,” and “Fact and Artifact: Visual Persuasion, Expert Evidence, and the Law.”
Q: You also have an appointment in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality studies. Is there an overlap with your Science in Society work or is this a separate research and teaching area?
A: Yes, there is an overlap. This semester, for example, I am teaching a course called “Gender and Technology.” The class analyzes the role of gender and other social factors