28th IU Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference to highlight feminist perspectives

3rd April 2016

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.) – Undergraduate scholars from IU Southeast and other IU system campuses will gather on Friday, April 8 at IU Southeast for the 28th IU Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference.

The theme of this year’s gathering is “The F-Word.”

The students will present research and creative work exploring and critiquing art, science, technology, education, popular culture and other fields, all through the lens of Women’s and Gender Studies.

The conference is divided into thematic breakout groups featuring presentations and discussion. While feminism is in the forefront, the program is varied, with topics ranging from eco-feminism and sex education to police brutality and cyborg literature.

Each year, the conference is held on a different IU campus, with an overall emphasis that reflects the concerns and interests of its coordinators.

Leigh Viner, professor of philosophy at IU Southeast and conference coordinator, has given the 2016 gathering a special cultural weight.

“In the past the conference has tended to focus on sociological, scientific themes,” she said. “So I thought it would be interesting to approach it more artistically, especially in view of the attention being brought to the contribution of the humanities to education generally.”

The impact of today’s women musicians like Beyonce and comedians like Tina Fey and Amy Schumer on shifting power dynamics in our culture warrants a closer look at this area, Viner said.

To underscore this fresh take, the keynote speaker is Kate Sedgwick, Louisville, Ky.-based comedian, who will deliver a short set of her stand-up, then speak about the way gender and women’s rights issues play a strong role in her joke-writing, as well as in her day-to-day life. Sedgwick has won numerous regional awards including, in 2014, Louisville’s Funniest Professional at The Laughing Derby, and The Golden Hustle Award at The Kent Carney Awards for Comedic Excellence.

“Most people are very unaware of gender issues in general, and many feel attacked when topics of feminism, trans rights and visibility come up because they challenge beliefs that are taken for granted,” Sedgwick said. “So comedy is a good jumping-off point for these ideas, because people don’t feel under attack when they are laughing.”

Viner underscored the inclusive nature of the conference for students.

“The Women’s and Gender Studies conference is supportive and welcoming,” she said. “It’s a wonderful environment for students to get their feet wet in presenting their research and creative work. They will be challenged with questions, but always in a positive way.”

Jessica Britton, a senior at IU Southeast majoring in English who will present a paper on techno-bodies and the fear of reproduction in cyborg literature, sees the opportunity as a way to dialogue with other students from across the system.

“The Women’s and Gender Studies Conference is incredibly valuable to students who wish to engage academically and intellectually with their peers,” she said.

Registration, breakfast and welcoming remarks will begin at 8 a.m. in the Knobview Hall Lobby. Sessions begin at 9 :15 a.m.

Lunch, including the keynote, will take place at 1 p.m. in the Hoosier Room.

For early bird arrivals, Brenda the Band, an emerging Louisville, Ky. “shotgun house rock” ensemble, will get things off to a blazing start on Thurs., April 7 at 8 p.m. in the Hoosier Room. There will be refreshments beginning at 7 p.m.

The Clarion Hotel Clarksville is the official accommodation of the conference. Please contact Leigh Viner for further information at vviner@ius.edu.

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