The Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) Department kicked off a lecture series this semester that covers a variety of topics within feminism and intersectionality, which is an extension of this year’s religion-based honors colloquium.

The lectures include: African American Women in the Suffrage Movement; Protestantism and State Formation in Postrevolutionary Oaxaca; Establishing Feminist Perspectives on the Vietnam War; Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam; and a Celebration of Toni Morrison.

According to Gender and Women’s Studies Director Rosaria Pisa, the reason she wanted to bring the lecture series to campus is because of everything happening in the world today that relates to feminism and intersectionality. These include elections, the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement. She decided after last year’s honors colloquium “Reimagining Gender: Voices, Power, Action,” that she wanted to keep the conversation about these topics going.

“I felt that, what was going to be important after last year’s honors colloquium focused on gender, was that GWS would continue to play an important role in bringing these topics to campus,” Pisa said. “Topics that have to do with talking about gender equality, social justice and how we can contribute to making a better world.”

Pisa said that bringing this information to students is especially important because topics such as feminism and intersectionality can apply to many things.

“What we do here at GWS is educate students about a very important perspective, which is the the feminist perspective that is grounded in the framework of intersectionality and how this perspective can apply to any issue, any social problem,” Pisa said. 

According to Pisa, the lecture series goes beyond what many think the GWS department focuses on.

“There is this misconception that what we do strictly focuses on women’s experiences, and there was a time for that to be the focus,” Pisa said. “We go beyond that and want to show how what we do here applies more widely. We want students to know that they can come to GWS to gain a better understanding of difference, social justice and inclusion and develop a deeper sense of social responsibility.”

The lecture series began with a lecture by GWS Professor Dr. Jessica Frasier. She focused on the role of women who worked towards peace, specifically during the Vietnam War.

“A piece of history that is often not talked about is the role of women in terms of organizing, making demands and working towards peace,” Pisa said. “Women especially have a long history of organizing [for] peace and [contributing to] peace efforts.”

The lecture series will continue on Thursday, Nov. 7 with a presentation by Yale University Assistant Professor Dr. Evren Savci, focusing on “Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam.” The lecture will look into the presence of LGBTQ+ groups in countries where Islam is the dominant religion and what their lives are like living in these places.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, there will be a panel discussion in memory of writer Toni Morrison, who was known for inclusion of feminism and intersectionality in her works. Morrison  died earlier this year at the age of 88. 

The panel will include English and GWS Professor Karen Stein, English Professor Martha Rojas, Philosophy Professor James Haile III and GWS Professor Jody Lisberger.

“Toni Morrison, for writers and readers, was a giant,” Lisberger said. “She was brilliant as a writer, a thinker, someone who was not afraid, ever to tell the true stories of racism and slavery. She explored mixed race conflicts within the communities of color and white communities. She has incredibly daring female characters who are not afraid to stand up to convention.”

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