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Five College Women’s Studies Research Center Events

Fall semester 2011

Friday, October 21, 1 p.m. — Jennifer Cayer, Five College Women's Studies research associate from Amherst College, will give a talk entitled “Her Town: Annie Baker's Americans.” In a trio of recent off-Broadway plays, Annie Baker has fabricated a town that feels as real and recognizable as its combined parts of Vermont and her hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. Theater artists like Baker, perhaps now more than ever, seem committed to replicating and reenacting, to borrow a phrase of David Foster Wallace’s, an experience of life as it is “lived on the nerves.” Baker’s work – as part of this larger trend across television, film, and theatre – offers an apt occasion to address the proliferation of “real-life” based reenactments, our desires for realism, and the forms that promise to deliver it. Cayer will discuss Baker’s contribution to debates on the role of contemporary theater and its relationship to digital media as it is achieved through a distinct mode of theatrical realism.

Friday, October 28, 1 p.m. — Sumiao Li, Five College Women's Studies research associate from the New York Institute of Technology, will give a talk entitled “The ‘Supergirl’ and the ‘City Jade Man:’ Gender-Neutral Aesthetics in Contemporary China and its Challenges for Transnational Feminism.” This presentation investigates the emergence of new fashion-driven gender models in contemporary China: the “supergirl” and the “city jade” man. Sharing the gender-neutral aesthetics fashionable in recent decades, these two models present much about contemporary Chinese culture and society. Exploring why and how these figures have arisen out of the post-Mao de-politicization of gender issues, Li argues for the centrality of global fashion in shaping personal and group identities and discusses challenges the new formations pose for transnational feminist practice.

Friday, November 4, 1 p.m. — Gretchen Lopez, Five College Women's Studies research associate from Syracuse University, will give a talk entitled “Dialogue Matters: Listening to and Learning from College and High School Students." Lopez will describe a multi-methodological approach to considering college and high school student perspectives on education through intergroup dialogue. Intergroup dialogue is conceptualized as a form of education that purposefully engages students in communication across difference, explicitly addressing issues of power and privilege, social identities, and action. The presentation will address how intergroup dialogue works toward democratic education for college and high school students with attention to the educational experiences and critical self-reflections of students of color in college, and youth of color in urban high school contexts.

Monday, November 7, 4:30 p.m.
— Laura Briggs, professor of women, gender and sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will give a talk entitled “Making Race, Making Sex: Perspectives on Torture.” Is an Orientalized Arab masculinity being produced in the context of the politics of torture, specifically its intense sexualization? Can we speak of a science of torture in the U.S. in anthropology, psychology, and biomedicine? Drawing on tools from the study of gender and race in science, this talk will use them to think about the torture of immigrant men in the U.S. and Europe targeted as "terrorists."

Monday, November 14, 4:30 p.m.
— Hye Gyong Park, Five College Women's Studies research associate from the Korean Women’s Institute, will give a talk entitled “The Invasion of Neo-Liberal Entrepreneurship into the Home: The Feminism Question in South Korea.” This presentation examines the relationship between the neo-liberal subjectification of housewives and feminist discourses during the last two decades in South Korea. It critiques the representation of married women, especially in the media, as “housewives” primarily responsible for housework even while the gender division of labor as a social system is reported to have weakened. Such discourses justify the gender division of labor, representing housewives as intelligent, self-confident and managerial, while lower-class women are represented as inferior mothers. Feminist discourses of housewives are implicated in neo-liberal housewife discourses, as they argue that housewives are professionals and that full-time housewives are representative of all married women.

Friday, December 2, 1 p.m. — Stefanie Van de Peer, Five College Women's Studies research associate from the University of Stirling, will give a talk entitled “Women Filming Against the Grain in Syria.” As the unrest in the Arab world and specifically in Syria dominate world news, a transnational approach to the Levant is imperative in order to give consideration to its rich historical circumstances and its hybrid contemporary reality. This paper looks at documentary films made by pioneering and emerging women from Syria, who are going against the grain to investigate their own culture and the political dissidence within that culture. Women's representations especially are contested material, as the state likes to see a specific image on the screen that is not always concurrent with reality. While censorship and government interference limit filmmakers in their subject matters, it also encourages them to be more creative in their approach to the issues they want to represent. Instead of limiting our vision of the Levant to what we see on TV and cinema screens represented through the eyes of European and American journalists and filmmakers, it is more important to understand the self-representations of women from the area, as they deal with contentious issues such as war and peace, human rights, women's rights and political dissidence.

These events will be held at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, 83 College St., South Hadley (on the Mount Holyoke College campus). All events are free, open to the public and fully handicapped accessible.

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