Speakers to highlight transnational feminism and literature

September 13, 2016
Stephen Rachman
Xiumei Pu
Christina Holmes

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — This fall, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville will offer a speaker series that is designed to broaden the scope and depth of current scholarly activities in transnational feminism and transnational literature on campus; enrich students’ learning experiences in transnational contexts and perspectives; and open a platform for productive and critical interdisciplinary dialogues about the impacts of interdisciplinary scholarship on gender, politics and/or history in transnational perspectives. 

“The Women's and Gender Studies Program speaker series reflects our university’s mission to empower each student to become broader in perspective, intellectually more astute, ethically more responsible and to contribute wisely as an accomplished professional and knowledgeable citizen in a diverse global community,” said Dr. Dong Isbister, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at UW-Platteville.

“It presents cutting edge, interdisciplinary scholarship that is part of current dialogues about transnational and transcultural trajectories in women’s and gender studies and other relevant areas of study and also bears relevance to North American contexts,” said Isbister. “It also helps enrich students’ learning experiences at UW-Platteville and provides a platform for interested individuals in our community to have a deeper understanding of research in women’s and gender studies and explore possible ways of change at epistemological, social, cultural or political levels.”

The speaker series will include:

  • “Pearl Buck: Transnational Conception of Comparative Democracy, Feminism, and Literature”

Thursday, Sept. 22, 5-6:30 p.m., 136 Doudna Hall

Dr. Stephen Rachman, associate professor of English at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan, will discuss the renewed consideration to author Pearl Buck and her work, including where she should be located in American and Chinese literary history. He will also discuss syncretic figures like Buck who cannot be extricated easily from one or another national tradition.

“By paying closer attention to figures whose literary histories force us to consider their works in multi-lingual, multinational contexts, the complex interactions of global literary systems can be made visible,” said Rachman.

  • “Environmental Wellness: An Ecowomanist Perspective”

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 5-6:30 p.m., 140 Ottensman Hall

Dr. Xiumei Pu, assistant professor of environmental studies at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, will discuss Bön, a spiritual tradition indigenous to Tibet, as an example of the core values of ecowomanism and their application in everyday life and socio-environmental activism. Ecowomanism is a nascent area of inquiry within the parameters of womanism, a social change perspective rooted in black women’s lived experiences and cultures.

“The first use of the term womanist appeared in Alice Walker’s short story, ‘Coming Apart (1979),’” said Pu. “Since then, many academics, artists and activists have contributed to the development of womanism. In particular, ecowomanism is connected to an environmental justice and wellbeing frame centering the experiences, theories, practices and activism of women of African descent.”

  • “Ecofeminist Insights into Chicano Feminist Aesthetics”

Thursday, Oct. 27, 5-6:30 p.m., 136 Doudna Hall

Dr. Christina Holmes, assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, will highlight the misrecognition of ecological themes in Chicana cultural production and offer a new way to read texts while paying particular attention to metaphors of mapping.

“Misrecognition of ecological narratives occurs across Chicana/o studies as scholars emphasize social justice aims, such as improved working conditions for Mexican American farm and factory laborers, sometimes divorcing these aims from their environmental context,” said Holmes. “Even though depicting a strong relationship to land has been a noted trope in the literature of Chicana/o studies since the decolonization movements of the 1960s, connections to the land have staked symbolic citizenship in the United States in the face of the erasure of land rights and attacks on the language and cultural traditions for those with Mexican American, Mexican and native heritage.” Holmes will also present selected writings and visual art, contrasting hegemonic readings that emphasize feminist and nationalist concerns with an ecofeminist analysis of such works.

The presentations are co-sponsored by UW-Platteville’s College of Liberal Arts and Education dean’s office, Department of Humanities, and Women’s and Gender Studies Program. The speaker series is free and open to all.

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities, and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The speaker series aligns with the priorities of providing an outstanding education, fostering a community of achievement and respect, and enriching the tri-states.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu


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