2010-2011 Year in Review


The 2010-11 year in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) has continued to be a time of significant change for the program. Fall 2010 saw the beginning of our new minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer (LGBT/Q) Studies, and the offering of  our new course, Introduction to LGBT Studies, taught in rotation by History faculty members Timothy Winter-Stewart and Whitney Strub. The Fall offering of Introduction to LGBTQ Studies filled to capacity and so we have expanded the course cap to meet the demand, a testament to the need for LGBT/Q Studies on our campus. This need was particularly brought home to us by the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, an LGBTQ student on the New Brunswick campus. As a result Women’s and Gender Studies, in concert with American Studies, cosponsored a forum on the tragedy and the issues that LGBTQ students and faculty face at Rutgers-Newark. This was a breakthrough conversation for faculty and students which we hope to continue in succeeding years. WGS also joined the LGBT Task Force at Rutgers-Newark to create a more supportive environment for LGBTQ students on the Newark campus. The Task Force has already made progress, with approval for a gender-neutral student housing already in the works and a center for LGBTQ students and allies planned.

The Annual Symposium this year was extraordinarily well-attended, due in no small part to the new partnership between Women’s and Gender Studies and the local organization Women in Media Newark (WIM-N), which hosts a women’s film festival annually, and which coordinated its film festival so that the first film was screened at the symposium. This year our symposium theme was Women in Religion, which drew a number of audience members from the wider Newark community. We had a number of dynamic speakers who lectured on different faiths and traditions, including Rabbi Margaret Wenig, Elder Jacquelyn Holland of Unity-in-Truth Church in Newark, Professor Ousseina Alidou (Rutgers-NB),  Professor Anthea Butler (University of Pennsylvania), Professor Francine Cardmon (Boston University), Professor Emilie Townes (Yale University), and our own Rutgers-Newark faculty Professors Sadia Abbas, Beryl Satter and Mary Segers. 

During the year the program hosted or cosponsored a number of exciting events: the screening of the film “Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai”, on the feminist-activist environmentalism of the Kenyan Nobel Laureate; “How to Do Things With Neurons: Suicidal Ideation, Depression and Feminist Theories of Mind-Body” by renowned scientist Professor Elizabeth Wilson of Emory University; “Deconstructing the Bisexual Bridge” by Dr. David Malebranche of Emory University; “Obscene Configuration: Race, Sexuality and the Politics of Obscenity” by Professor Whitney Strub of History; and “No Home-Run Hitter or Fly Bachatero: Junot Diaz’ Macho Ethics” by Professor Jason Cortés of Spanish.

The program has also benefited tremendously from the addition of our new administrative assistant, Ms. Georgia Hadjikonstantinou, who has been a dynamo in organizing WGS events and setting up our new offices and lounge space. I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of Jaehyun Jeong. a doctoral candidate in American Studies who has been our graduate assistant for the year, and who has run the WGS blog  243 Conklin(http://wgsnewark.wordpress.com).

This year we also welcomed our third teacher-scholar, Danielle Phillips, a doctoral student in Women’s & Gender Studies from Rutgers-New Brunswick. Dr. Phillips taught the topics courses “Women, Race and Labor in the U.S.” and “Global Black Feminism”, two very important areas of focus for WGS as we expand our offerings to reflect a more diverse, global society. Our incoming teacher-scholar for 2011-12 is Laura Lovin, who works on the ways in which cities shape gender and ethnic identities. We look forward to working with her this year.

Lastly, I want to welcome to the WGS community our new affiliate members, Sadia Abbas and Patricia Akhimie, assistant professors of English, and Eva Giloi, associate professor of History.

The program continues to expand its offerings. As part of this expansion, starting next Fall two competitive research grants will be available for faculty and graduate students conducting research in gender and sexuality-related subjects. Stay tuned for more information on these.

In the meantime, I looking forward to seeing all of you at our welcome reception in Fall 2011. 

-Belinda Edmondson, Director Women’s and Gender Studies