Fall 2019 Gender Studies Faculty Research Workshops
"Biased Evaluative Terms"
Sara Bernstein (Philosophy)
Friday, September 27 12:30-1:45pm
339 O'Shaughnessy Hall
In 2008, Joseph Biden called Barack Obama “an African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” In the present day, democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay married man, is often complimented in the press on how “traditional” he is said to be. Trans actress Laverne Cox is often described as “feminine” by well-meaning celebrity journalists. Though “articulate,” “clean,” “traditional,” and “feminine” are intended as compliments, arguably they would not be applied in contextually similar situations to people in different, more privileged social categories—that is, if Barack Obama were not African-American, if Pete Buttigieg were not gay, and if Laverne Cox were not trans. Such biased evaluative terms—roughly, terms whose apparently positive surface meanings are inflected with implicitly biased content—are the focus of this project. An evaluative term is bias-infused when it expresses an evaluation of a person that would not be applied were a particular sort of social identity (gender, race, ability, etc.) not had by the person to whom it is being attributed, and that social identity interacts with negative norms or stereotypes.
After giving several different kinds of examples drawn from contemporary news media, fiction, and film, Dr. Bernstein will distinguish biased evaluative terms (BETs) from similar linguistic concepts, including backhanded compliments, slurs, insults, epithets, and dog-whistles, and address some challenges and objections to their distinctiveness and evaluability, including intersectional social identities. Finally, Dr. Bernstein will discuss the importance of BETs and suggest some future avenues of research about them. Identifying BETs is important for a variety of social contexts, from the very general and broad (political speeches) to the very particular and small (bias in academic hiring).
Spring 2019 Gender Studies Faculty Research Workshops
"Housewife Beads the World!" Liza Lou and the Politics of Process
Elyse Speaks (Art, Art History, and Design)
Friday, February 8 | 12-1:00pm
339 O’Shaughnessy Hall
Artist Liza Lou’s installation Kitchen (1991-96), a 426 cm work comprised of beads, took five years to complete, and is a full-scale kitchen that manifests the labor of its production as an artwork in the visual preservation of every bead placed across its surface. This talk considers the work in detail, and focuses specifically on issues of process and materials in order to consider how they address the thematics of labor and time in relation to the politics of domesticity. The talk is taken from a chapter in progress from a larger project on labor and art in the 1990s.
Gendered Glissandos: International Feminisms in a French Frame
Alison Rice (Romance Languages)
Tuesday, March 26 | 12-1:00pm
119 O'Shaughnessy Hall
An unprecedented number of women writers of French from outside France are currently contributing to a crucial and timely reconfiguration of “French feminism” that reflects the growing diversity of “French” “feminists” today. Thanks to various backgrounds that extend around the globe, these writers are capable of literary creations that effectively demonstrate new approaches to feminist concerns in France from an international perspective. This talk stems from interviews Dr. Rice conducted in Paris with such figures as Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva, among others.
Fall 2018 Gender Studies Faculty Research Workshops
Francisco Robles (English)
Unsettling Monuments of Latinx Masculinity in Estela Portillo-Trambley's "Rain of Scorpions"
Wednesday, October 24 | 12-1pm
339 O’Shaughnessy Hall
In this paper, I consider Estela Portillo Trambley's "Rain of Scorpions" novella and its critiques of Chicanx masculinity as contained in radical-revolutionary political movements. I am also interested in examining how the novella, as part of Portillo Trambley's Rain of Scorpions short story collection, offers an undoing of the logics of the young man's bildungsroman or the tropes of developing masculine consciousness in many Chicano publications of the 1960s and 1970s. This paper is also a partial recovery of and engagement with the early critical work on Portillo Trambley, an author whose writings have largely been ignored in current conversations about Chicanx Literature, while also considering how decoloniality, as a critical lens, might lead to a renewed appreciation and reinvigoration of those early conversations.
Rebecca Gibson (Anthropology)
Competing Discourses: Is the Corset a Killer?
Monday, November 12 | 12:45-1:45pm
339 O'Shaughnessy Hall
This work in progress is a chapter in Gibson's upcoming book, which is tentatively titled All Bound Up: An Examination of the Bioarchaeology of the Practice of Corseting. In this chapter, she examines the myth of the killer corset as one of the discourses around the garment which shapes our understanding of it today. Gibson will analyze how doctors from the early 1900s thought about the corset, and compare that to the skeletal evidence about corset wearer's longevity.
Spring 2018 Gender Studies Faculty Research Workshops
Eileen Hunt Botting (Political Science)
"Portraits of Wollstonecraft, 1787-2017"
Monday, February 19
Eileen Hunt Botting is a Professor in the Department of Political Science; Faculty Director of University Merit Scholarship Programs at Notre Dame; and Concurrent Faculty, Gender Studies. She is the author of Family Feuds: Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Rousseau on the Transformation of the Family (SUNY, 2006), Wollstonecraft, Mill, and Women's Human Rights (Yale, 2016), and Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child: Political Philosophy in Frankenstein (Penn Press, 2017). She is currently editing the two-volume set Portraits of Wollstonecraft for Bloomsbury and co-editing The Wollstonecraftian Mind, with 40 contributors from around the world, for Routledge. With Greg Kucich and Agustin Fuentes, she is co-organizing a bicentennial for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to be held on Notre Dame's campus in Fall 2018.
Mary Wollstonecraft's life and ideas have been represented in portraiture and other art since the very beginning of her public career to the present, thus making her into an icon--both for (post)modern feminisms and in (post)modern forms of art.
Nicole Woods (Art History)
"Participatory Ecologies and The House of Dust: Land Art, Poetry, Counterpublics"
Tuesday, April 3
Nicole Woods is an Assistant Professor, Modern and contemporary Art History; Concurrent Faculty in Gender Studies and Film, Television, and Theater.
In 1967, American Fluxus artist Alison Knowles (b.1933) organized an informal workshop on digitized language systems and computer mainframes with her friend, the experimental composer James Tenney. Over the course of several Thursday evenings in the living room of her Chelsea home, Tenney introduced a group of gathered artists and musicians to the rich potential of blurring aesthetic boundaries—visual, poetic, musical, digital. A resident at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey and an expert on the IBM compiling system known as FORTRAN, Tenney’s aim was twofold: to demystify the complexity of technocratic language and programming; and to show the artists that their explorations of chance and indeterminacy in the early 1960s, in a variety of artistic media, resembled the development of electronic data processing. Stimulated by this environment, Knowles began to reconceive her approach to artmaking. Rather than look to the I-Ching and other formulas for chance-derived imagery, which she deployed in the late 1950s in order to randomize the elements of large abstract paintings, by the end Tenney’s workshop, Knowles created one of the first digital poems, The House of Dust (1967).
Composed of four separate categories (materials, locations, lighting, inhabitants) and typed in lists by Knowles in advance, the resultant quatrains of The House of Dust were automated mixings of computer’s internal logic. The refrain of the poem followed the formulation “A House of…,” with each category producing a seemingly endless runoff of stanzas that were fascinatingly absurd, humorous, and evocative: “A House of Leaves/In Michigan/Using Natural Light/Inhabited by People Who Sleep Very Little.” Within the poem’s stanzas, the idea of journeying both through and out of imagined environments populated by “horses and birds” or “all races of men wearing red clothing,” and housed in “high mountains” or “by the sea,” signifies utopian visions of love and reconciliation at the height of the Vietnam War.
This talk reconsiders the poem—and its later iteration as free-standing structures in New York and California—in relation to Knowles’s transformative corpus in the late 1960s and beyond. In thinking through the chance operations deployed in The House of Dust, I argue that Knowles ushers in a pioneering approach toward audience activation, playing on several visual, physical, and phenomenological registers at once. The themes of multiplicity and randomization are, of course, conceptual cores of Knowles’s poem, but so, too, is its capacity for visionary habitation. One aim of revisiting her The House of Dust fifty years later is to broaden our understanding of the experimentalist spirit during the 1960s-1970s, while also complicating the work of women artists within that narrative. Highlighting Knowles’s sustained investigation of imaginative dwelling as a critique of war and domesticity, I conclude by emphasizing that Knowles art practice is one that carefully reexamines art as itself a social relation, and an occasion of contingency.