MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


Women’s Studies redresses the invisibility of women and gender in the construction of knowledge and reminds us to include women’s as well as men’s contributions, experiences and perceptions in understanding the world. The inclusion of Women’s Studies subjects in the curriculum of an MIT student helps to produce an engineer, scientist, or business executive who is better equipped to contribute fully and participate effectively in teams made up of men and women.

The program is directed by Margery Resnick, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies. During academic year 1999—2000, the Women’s Studies Steering Committee consisted of Professor Isabelle de Courtivron (Foreign Languages and Literatures), Associate Professor Evelynn Hammonds (Science, Technology and Society), Associate Professor Sally Haslanger (Philosophy), Professor Jean Jackson(Anthropology), Professor Henry Jenkins (Literature and Comparative Media Studies), Professor Evelyn Fox Keller (Science, Technology and Society), Associate Professor Anne McCants (History), Professor Ruth Perry (Literature), Associate Professor Margery Resnick (Chair), and Associate Professor Elizabeth Wood (History). Ex-officio members of the steering committee are: Associate Head Librarian and Collections Manager for Women’s Studies Marlene Manoff (Humanities Library), and Women’s Studies Program Coordinator Michèle Oshima. The Curriculum Committee consisted of professors Assistant Professor Aixa Cintrón (Department of Urban Studies and Planning), Professor Haslanger, Associate Professor Diana Henderson (Literature), Professor McCants (Chair), and Assistant Professor Lora Wildenthal (History) The Programming Committee consisted of Assistant Professor Thomas DeFrantz (Theater Arts), Professor Hammonds (Chair), and Professor Jenkins. The Advisory Committee consisted of Professor Ellen Harris (Music), Professor Nancy Hopkins (Biology), Professor Molly Potter (Brain & Cognitive Science), Associate Professor Bishwapriya Sanyal (Department of Urban Studies and Planning), and Professor Robert Silbey (Chemistry).

The Program in Women’s Studies offers an undergraduate curriculum consisting of core classes and cross-listed subjects from several departments. Students may concentrate, minor and petition for a major departure in Women’s Studies. The Program in Women’s Studies offered twenty-three subjects during the academic year 1999—2000, with approximately 300 students enrolled. The curriculum was enriched by the following six new subjects taught by faculty in several units: "Gender, Power and Development" (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Christine Walley), "Literary Interpretation: Virginia Woolf's Shakespeare" (Professor Henderson, Literature), "Medieval Literature: Medieval Women's Literature" (Assistant Professor of Literature, James Cain), "Problems in Cultural Interpretation: Children’s Culture" co-taught by Professor Jenkins (Literature and Comparative Media Studies) and Associate Professor of Media Arts, Justine Cassell, "Traditions in American Concert Dance: Gender and Autobiography" (Professor DeFrantz, Theater Arts), and "The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender in the United States" (Professor Hammonds, STS). Professor Resnick also taught the first Women’s Studies subject, "International Women’s Voices" on-line this spring through which MIT students shared background material, writing, and conversation on four novels with a university class in Germany for six weeks. Professor Haslanger (Philosophy) and Professor Wildenthal (History) received the Class of ’51 Fund for Excellence in Education, Class of ’55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching, and Class of ’72 Fund for Educational Innovation, for revisions to the "Introduction to Women’s Studies" subject at MIT. Professor Resnick conducted independent study subjects with four students. Professors Wildenthal and DeFrantz conducted independent studies with one student each. Women’s Studies had one major this year. Professors Ceasar McDowell (Urban Studies and Planning) and Walley (Anthropology) advised this student on his Women’s Studies thesis research. In addition, Professor Wood was the representative for the program to the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies (GCWS) which she co-chaired. This year, the GCWS offered three graduate level courses, in which one MIT graduate student enrolled.

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the MIT Program in Women’s Studies, in October, Women’s Studies sponsored a Dar Williams Concert that filled Kresge Auditorium.

"Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?" A panel discussion with Susan Okin (Stanford), Martha Nussbaum (U. of Chicago), Abdullahi An-Na’im (Emory), Homi Bhabha (U. of Chicago), Leila Ahmed (Harvard). Moderated by MIT Professor Joshua Cohen was sponsored by the Boston Review, MIT Program in Women's Studies, MIT Political Science, authors@mit, the Technology and Culture Forum, and the Princeton University Press.

A reading series featuring local author and MIT Assistant Professor Helen Elaine Lee reading from Water Marked and visionary and author Susie Bright reading from Full Exposure was cosponsored by authors@mit and the MIT Program in Women’s Studies.

Women’s Studies sponsored the following events through the McMillan-Stewart Lecture on Women in the Developing World: "Making African Documentaries: Challenges for Women Directors" by African award-winning filmmaker Anne-Laure Folly and "Obscure Desires? The direction of the look as a content variable: Reflections on the practice of an African woman filmmaker" by Tsitsi Dangarembga. In conjunction with the last lecture, the MIT African Students Association and Women's Studies cosponsored a screening at MIT of "Everyone’s Child" by Tstisi Dangarembga on children orphaned by AIDS in Zimbabwe.

The science fiction reading by Connie Willis and Nalo Hopkinson, was cosponsored by the Communications Forum, Comparative Media Studies, and LSC.

Women’s Studies co-sponsored the Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies program "Eastern Europe: Memoirs, Memory, History," a panel discussion featuring Marianne Hirsh, Eva Hoffman, Susan Suleiman and moderated by MIT Lecturer Monika Totten.

Women’s Studies supported Foreign Languages and Literatures Program: "¿Qué cuentan las mujeres en Cuba?: Narradoras de los años 90." Maria Luisa Campuzano.

"Women in Electoral Politics" A panel featuring Laura Liswood, Nancy Korman, and Massachusetts State Representative Liz Malia was moderated by Professor Wood.

"Feminism without Women? Against the Effacement of Sexual Difference" A talk given by Sylviane Agacinski was cosponsored by FL& L and Women’s Studies.

"Women in Athletics", with a screening of "A Hero for Daisy" by Mary Mazzio on women and title XI at Yale, followed by a panel of MIT Women Alumnae: Institute Professor and former Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall ’60 and Astronaut Cady Coleman ’84 was cosponsored by the Program in Women’s Studies, the Department of Athletics, the Dean of Student Life and the Webster-Mauzé Fund in the Provost’s Office.

Women’s Studies students arranged a series of film screenings (Daughters of the Dust, A League of Their Own, Silence of the Palace, Clockwatchers, and Diary For My Love) followed by discussions.

Women’s Studies co-sponsored two of the Comparative Media Studies colloquia: "Picture of Innocence: The History and Crisis of Ideal Childhood by Anne Higgonet", and "Barbie, Youth Violence, Queer Sex, and Censorship: Mixing it Up" by Erica Rand. In addition "Media, Madness and Morals," a discussion led by Jennifer Gonnerman and Tanya Selvaratnum was also cosponsored.

The "Black Performance Theory: Performativity and Narratives of Race" the working group featuring public components with MIT Professor Thomas DeFrantz (Chair), Annemarie Bean, Jennifer DeVere Brody, Richard Green III, Monique Guillory, John Jackson, Jr., Marya McQuirter, Anna Scott, Carl Hancock Rux, Christalyn E. Wright, Anita Gonzales, Jason King, Pamela Means and Amatul Hannan was cosponsored by Theater Arts, the Council for the Arts, Women’s Studies, MIT Dean for Student Life, and the MIT Committee of Race Relations.

MIT Office of the Arts and the MIT Program in Women’s Studies cosponsored "Love in a Post Claustrophobic Era: Reflections on ‘Salad of the Bad Café’" a performance lecture, by Split Brtiches’ Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver and Asian American performance artist Stacy Makishi.

The Hip Hop Fest 2000 with music by Native Sound and Performances by the Untouchables, Twin Poets, The Artists of Pro Ghetto Entertainment, The Havnotz, Dangerous Minds was cosponsored by the MIT Program in Women’s Studies, MIT Fund, Spice Fund, Office of Minority Education, the Council for the Arts, and the Campus Committee on Race Relations.

A special concert of Latino music featuring Flory Jagoda, Elliot Jagoda and Susan Feltman was cosponsored by MIT Hillel, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education and Foreign Language and Literatures.

In conjunction with the subject "Race and Gender in Asian America," Women’s Studies presented a panel on Asian American Queer Women’s Sexuality featuring Selena Wahng, Cecilia Tan, and Sonali Gulati and moderated by Ashwini Sukthankar.

A Women’s Collective Concert featuring Jess Klein and the Nields was cosponsored by Women’s Studies, the MIT Women’s Collective and LSC.

Women and Hair, panel of students cosponsored with Hillel, MIT Women’s Collective and Women’s Studies.


The Women’s Studies Faculty continued their active contributions to their individual fields. Most of their accomplishments are listed in the reports of their home departments, so special attention is given here to achievements relating to work on gender.

Professor Isabelle de Courtivron (FL&L) published a review on a biography on Colette in the NY Times. Associate Professor Margery Resnick (FL&L) is the president of the International Institute in Spain, where she ran an international symposium on women’s health issues. She gave the following talks: "This Is Not Your Father’s MIT" to an MIT alumni club; "The History of Women’s Studies: Challenges and Perspectives on Women’s Studies Programs"; and "Women Writers and The New Spain." Assistant Professor Emma Teng (FL&L) served on the National Advisory Board of the Women’s History Museum: An Institute for the Future.

Professor Evelyn Fox Keller (STS) published "From ‘Gender and Science’ to ‘Language and Science,’ in L’Invention du Naturel: Les sciences et la fabrication du feminin et du masculin and has written the following articles for conferences: "Tolerating Ambiguity" and "Whole Bodies, Whole Persons?" She gave Addresses (some of them "Keynote"): "Reproduction at the end of the Millennium," and "Feminisms and Rhetorics." Associate Professor Evelynn Hammonds (STS) was appointed to the editorial board of the journal Signs. She gave the public talk: "The Logic of Difference: Race and Gender in 19th century Surgery." She also received grants from the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the MIT Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine.

Professor Susan Slyomovics (Anthropology) was on leave in Morocco AY2000. During this time, she guest-edited a special issue of MERIP, "Morocco in Transition" which included her article, "A Truth Commission for Morocco?"; an interview with Fatna El Bouih (Moroccan feminist); and excerpts of Professor Slyomovics’ translation of her prison memoirs, Dhakirat al-nisyan. She published the following review: Women and the War Story, by Miriam Cooke in Middle East Studies Association Bulletin. She served on the Advisory Board of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. Assistant Professor Christine Walley (Anthropology) presented the following conference paper: "‘Culture’ and the Global Debates over Female Genital Surgeries" on the panel entitled "Female Genital Cutting: Local Dynamics of a Global Debate" for the American Anthropological Association Meetings.

At a meeting (Mexico) of Latin American women playwrights, Associate Professor Brenda Cotto-Escalera (Theater Arts) identified ways to increase their visibility in the international arts community. She directed Abe Rybeck and Noelia Ortiz Cortes in a full production of Immaculate Infection, a piece created collaboratively by all three for The Theater Offensive. Professor Cotto-Escalera also consulted with the True Colors Out Youth Theater program of The Theater Offensive. Assistant Professor Thomas DeFrantz (Theater Arts) was the founding artistic director of "The Usual Suspects," the resident acting company of The Theatre Offensive. He convened the working group and performance "Black Performance Theory" at MIT.

Assistant Professor Helen Elaine Lee (Writing and Humanistic Studies) published her novel, Water Marked. She published the following pieces: "An Interview with Helen Elaine Lee" in Callaloo: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Literature and Culture; "Claiming Identities" in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire; and "Writing to Live" and "Excerpt from Water Mark" in Essence Magazine. She read from Water Marked at many venues across the country including libraries, universities, bookstores and professional organizations. She served as associate fiction editor of Callaloo.

Associate Professor Justine Cassell (Media Arts and Sciences) published the following chapters in books: "Children as Designers of Interactive Storytellers: Let me tell you a story about myself . . . " coauthored with M. Umaschi Bers, M. in Human Cognition and Social Agent Technology; "Nudge Nudge Wink Wink: Elements of Face-to-Face Conversation for Embodied Conversational Agents" in Embodied Conversational Agents and she published the following paper in a refereed journal: "More than Just Another Pretty Face: Embodied Conversational Interface Agents" in Communications of the ACM. She was a guest speaker at the University of Vermont, Women’s Studies Program.

Associate Professor Anne McCants (History) presented the following talks: "The Transmission of assets and family networks: managing the property and care of orphans in eighteenth century Amsterdam," and "Petty Debts and Family Networks." She published the following articles: "The Not-So-Merry Widows of Amsterdam, 1740—1782," in the Journal of Family History; and "Individual Life Chances Within the Rural Norwegian-American Family, 1850—1910," coauthored with Jon Gjerde in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. She published a review of Benjamin Roberts, Through the Keyhole: Dutch Child-rearing Practices in the 17th and 18th Century, Three Urban Elite Families in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.

Professor Ruth Perry (Literature) published three articles on women in eighteenth century literature in collected volumes published this year, and two of her essays "Radical Doubt and the Liberation of Women" and "De-Familiarizing the Family; Or Writing Family History from Literary Sources" were reprinted. She serves on the Dean's Committee on Gender Equity at MIT. Professor Henry Jenkins (Literature and Comparative Media Studies) spoke at the Console-ing Passion Conference.

Associate Professor Sally Haslanger (Philosophy) published the following pieces: "Gender, Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?" in Noûs; "Feminism and Metaphysics: Unmasking Hidden Ontologies" in the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy; "What Knowledge Is and What It Ought To Be: Feminist Values and Normative Epistemology," Philosophical Perspectives; and "Feminism and Metaphysics: Negotiating the Natural" in The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. She has been appointed to the Editorial Board for the Studies in Feminist Philosophy book series at the Oxford University Press. She gave the following departmental colloquia: "You Mixed? Racial Identity without Racial Biology" and "Theorizing Gender and Race: Does (Feminist) Method Make A Difference?"

Professor Cintrón (DUSP) has left MIT and will join the faculty of Fordham. Professor Wildenthal (History) has left MIT and will join the faculty of Texas A&M.


Professor Resnick will serve as director through June 30, 2001. Active programming for Women’s Studies for 2000—2001 is underway, and the Program will continue to stress the study of women in the international sphere.

More information about this program can be found on the World Wide Web at

Margery Resnick

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000