The University Record, September 21, 1992

Two-year program increased awareness of feminist scholarship

By Deborah Gilbert
News and Information Srvices

Two years ago, the Women’s Studies Program launched an ambitious lecture series, “Feminist Scholarship: Thinking Through the Disciplines,” which drew 14 nationally recognized feminist scholars to the University.

Faculty and graduate students from 10 LS&A departments attended the lectures and met formally and informally with the scholars. So, after all that activity, has anything changed?

Yes, indeed, some things have changed, according to a final report issued in August by the program.

“The hope in Women’s Studies was that the feminist scholars—who were tops in their fields—would stimulate interest in and legitimize feminist scholarship on campus,” says Anne C. Herrmann, acting director of the program and associate professor of English.

The most notable and concrete evidence that the lecture series had an impact appears in the list of recent faculty hires. “It is hard to say that these new feminist scholars were hired as a direct result of the project, since many departments have been considering doing so for some time,” said Herrmann, “but it is quite reasonable to assume that the scholarship project was a catalyst to act.”

According to Herrmann and the report:

—The Department of Political Science has hired theorist Jacquelynne Stevens who will teach “Feminist Political Theory” in the department and “Feminist Thought” in women’s studies.

—The Department of History has hired historian Susan Johnson who will teach “Region and Gender in U.S. History” in the department, and “Differences Among Women” in women’s studies. She also will supervise “Introduction to Women’s Studies” this fall.

—The Department of Psychology has hired scholar Andrea Hunter who will teach a graduate seminar, “The Life Course, Family and Society,” in the department and “Differences Among Women” in the Women’s Studies Program.

—The Department of Classical Studies is bringing visiting scholar Karen Van Dyck to campus. She will teach “Modern Greek,” in the department and “Feminist Theory” in women’s studies. She also will team-teach the cross-listed “Women in Ancient and Modern Greece” with a classics professor.

—The Department of Philosophy has hired philosopher Sally Haslanger who will teach metaphysics in the department and is expected to teach “Gender and Philosophy” in women’s studies next year.

The report also noted that many graduate students throughout the 10 departments were “heartened” by the lecture series because it legitimized their interests in feminist scholarship and helped them discover how to include feminist research in their curriculums. Also, as a result of the series, many departments now have a bibliography and reference library on feminist scholarship.

Not all expectations were met, however. The report noted that faculty who attended the lectures and workshops often were already interested in feminist scholarship. When that was not case, discussions occasionally veered off to race and class scholarship—topics more familiar to male faculty.

While some faculty remained uncon-vinced that gender analysis was relevent to their disciplines, several departments reported that one or two faculty members had made substantial revisions to their syllabi to include feminist scholarship. Many reported that faculty members were now more supportive of their graduate students’ interests in feminist research.

One graduate student observed that “interest was as likely to ‘filter up’ from graduate students to faculty as ‘filter down’ from the faculty.”