Five College Women’s Studies Research Center celebrates its 21st anniversary with a symposium

Mediating Public Spheres: Genealogies of Feminist Knowledge in the Digital Age Taking place April 4–6 at multiple area locations

The Five College Women’s Studies Research Center is celebrating its 21st anniversary with a symposium. Mediating Public Spheres: Genealogies of Feminist Knowledge in the Digital Age will offer conversations around feminist knowledge in the digital age through a series of keynote addresses, panels and seminars.

“This symposium brings together leading feminist scholars from the Five Colleges and beyond to discuss the impact, application, and consequences of digital technologies in sharing, evaluating, and producing knowledge,” says Karen Remmler, Mount Holyoke professor of German and Gender studies and director of the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center.

The symposium, which will feature more than 30 scholars and practitioners for a three-day series of events, is part of the center’s two-year focus on new media and digital technologies. “From its inception in 1991 to the present, the center has brought together scholars from around the world to engage in feminist scholarship, teaching and activism,” notes Remmler. “Our new vision recognizes the transformation of collaborative research and teaching through digital technologies and through new approaches to engagement in the public sphere.”

The symposium will explore such questions as, how does the work done by academics intersect with the lives of women in diverse communities? How are digital technologies, from social media to surveillance tools, affecting feminist agendas in the public sphere locally and globally?

The many presentations and panel discussions will include “I Will Do Everything That I am Asked”: Spambaiting, Dogshaming, and the Racial Violence of Social Media, in which University of Michigan professor Lisa Nakamura will discuss the use of visual images and “shaming” as they have proliferated throughout the media. Penn State professor Susan Squier will present a keynote entitled Graphic Medicine in the Health Humanities: An Emergent Paradigm for Women’s Health exploring the history and significance of comics as a new medium for sex education. Her presentation includes a ’Zine workshop entitled Transforming Sex Education with Comics facilitated by Saiya Miller, coeditor of Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf, A Sex Education Comic Book. The award-winning documentary I Am will be screened at Amherst Cinema, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Sonali Gulati. (Visit the symposium website for a complete list of events.)

Located on the Mount Holyoke College campus, the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center was founded in 1991 as a site for international scholarly activity on issues relating to women and gender. Each year, the center hosts up to 13 associates from around the world who engage with faculty from Five College campuses through seminars, workshops and conferences dedicated to feminist inquiry. “With the symposium we are celebrating the work of more than 300 scholars, artists, writers and community activists, who have held associateships at the center since its inception in 1991,” noted Remmler.

Symposium events will take place at three campuses and the Amherst Cinema. All events are free and open to the public. For information and to register, visit the symposium website.

The symposium is made possible in part by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to Five Colleges, Incorporated and the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center Director’s Discretionary Fund. Co-sponsors include, at Amherst College: the Office of the President, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; at Hampshire College: the Creativity Center; at Mount Holyoke College: the Office of the President, the Department of Gender Studies, the Miller Worley Center for the Environment: at Smith College: the Department for the Study of Women and Gender; at UMass Amherst: the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department; the Amherst Cinema Arts Center.

Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Five Colleges, Inc., is a nonprofit educational consortium created in 1965 to advance the extensive educational and cultural objectives of its member institutions—Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.