Program in Women's Studies

Women's Studies (WS) continues to build on its success as an interdisciplinary undergraduate program. It provides a framework and community for scholarly inquiry focusing on women, gender, and sexuality. Exploring gender cross-culturally, historically, and artistically, WS subjects strive to help MIT students better understand various constructions of knowledge and value and to realize the range of personal and intellectual discoveries made possible by using gender as a category of analysis. The program is also an important resource and support for faculty with an advanced knowledge of gender studies within particular disciplines but interested in learning more across disciplinary lines; moreover, it welcomes faculty who have an emerging interest in the field of women's studies.

A highlight of this year was the May 2003 WS faculty retreat, a full day of discussions and breakout groups at MIT's Endicott House, during which 18 faculty members participated in conversations and planning sessions. WS faculty members planned a Conference on Feminism and Biology, brainstormed over 100 ideas for celebrating the 20th anniversary of WS, engaged in dialogue regarding the present state of WS at MIT, and made plans for programming, curriculum, our WS reading group, and our Intellectual Forum.

Program Administration

During 2002–2003, the program was directed by Elizabeth Wood, associate professor of history. During academic year 2003, the WS Steering Committee consisted of visiting associate professor Odile Cazenave (FL&L), associate professor Thomas DeFrantz (Music and Theater Arts), associate professor Sally Haslanger (Philosophy), Professor Jean Jackson (Anthropology), senior lecturer Wyn Kelley (Literature), associate professor Helen Elaine Lee (Writing, fall), assistant professor Charity Scribner (FL&L, spring), and Professor Wood (chair). Ex-officio members of the steering committee were associate head librarian and collections manager for WS Marlene Manoff (Humanities Library) and WS program coordinator Emily Meghan Morrow Howe. The Curriculum Committee consisted of senior lecturer Kelley (chair), assistant professor Christine Walley (Anthropology), and assistant professor Heghnar Watenpaugh (Architecture). The Programming Committee consisted of Professor Cazenave (FL&L, chair), assistant professor James Cain (Literature, fall), Professor DeFrantz (Music and Theatre Arts), associate professor Diana Henderson (Literature, spring) and Professor Wood (History). The Advisory Committee consisted of Lotte Bailyn, the T. Wilson '53 professor of management (Sloan); Professor Ellen Harris (Music); Professor Mary C. Potter (Brain and Cognitive Sciences); Professor Bishwapriya Sanyal (Urban Studies and Planning); the dean of science, Professor Robert Silbey (Chemistry); and the vice president and secretary of the Corporation, Kathryn Willmore.

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Curriculum and Faculty Development

The program in WS 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 WS. The program in WS offered 22 subjects during academic year 2003, with approximately 300 students enrolled. Due to student demand, the WS Program was able to offer four full sections of the subject SP.401 Introduction to Women's Studies, which allowed 100 students to explore the field of WS. This year, we have solicited and approved (and in one case created) five new courses in five distinct fields in WS for the next academic year: Global Feminisms (WS), The City Is a Woman: Modernity and Gender (FL&L), Technology and Gender in American History (STS), Writing about Gender (Writing), and Gender, Law, and Society (History).

A new initiative this year was the WS Faculty Intellectual Forums, which will be continued next year. Both new and tenured faculty shared their current work with other WS faculty members. The following faculty members presented their work at the forum:

The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies (GCWS) offered two graduate-level courses (Gender, Militarism and Peacekeeping and Feminist Inquiry: Strategies of Effective Scholarship) and a dissertation workshop. This spring, on International Women's Day, Professor Wood organized and chaired a highly successful retreat for 29 GCWS faculty on the topic of "Global Feminisms." Associate professor Anne McCants (History) was the representative for the program to the GCWS.

In terms of UROPs, associate professor Margery Resnick (FL&L) directed a successful and ongoing project on the Oral Histories of MIT Women Graduates. The project completed four additional histories this year. The work has focused on international women graduates at this time. This summer, the cohort to be interviewed includes women graduates from the Caribbean and Latin America.

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Programming Highlights

WS programming reflects the wide spectrum of issues and disciplines involved in the program. Especially given the absence of an Institute-wide women's center, many groups and programs also seek our cosponsorship of events. In keeping with the interdisciplinary and often holistic educational focus of our field, WS was pleased to sponsor the following events this year:

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Research, Publications, and Service

The WS 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 Capozzola wrote a review essay entitled "Empire as a Way of Life: Gender, Culture, and Power in New Histories of U.S. Imperialism," examining the following three works: Eileen J. Suárez Findlay's Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870–1920; Mary A. Renda's Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915–1940; and Laura Wexler's Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism, which appeared in the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 1 (October 2002), pp. 367–377. He presented a paper entitled "The Clubwoman as Statebuilder: Women's Organizations and the United States Government during World War I" at the American Historical Association, Chicago, January 3, 2003. Professor Capozzola served as the primary adviser for a thesis by Emily Wilkes Brosi '03 on "Surrogacy in the United States: The Acceptance of a New Technology into the Legal System and Society." He also supervised two UROP projects: Lisa Bell, "Equality and Everyday Life in American Legal History," and Mary Presley, "Racial Violence in the American Southwest: Reexamining the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921."

Professor Cazenave published "Erotisme et sexualité dans le roman africain et antillais au féminin" in Notre Librairie (September 2003) and had two entries (Veronique Tadjo and Calixthe Beyala) for the Companion to French Modern Thought, forthcoming from Routledge,. She also published book reviews in Research in African Literatures on the following titles: Less than One and Double, by Kenneth Harrow (spring 2003); and Ernaux, Redonnet, Bâ et Ben Jelloun: Le personnage féminin à l'aube du XXIème siècle, by Michèle Chossat (to appear fall 2003). Finally, Professor Cazenave served as curator of the fall and spring Genevieve McMillan-Reba Stewart Lectures and presented a paper at the Annual Conseil International d'Études Francophones Conference entitled "Ananda Devi: Une écriture jusqu'auboutiste," New Orleans (June 2003).

Lecturer Ender wrote "Le triomphe de l'éros dans François le Champi," published in the George Sand Studies, special issue edited by Lucienne Frappier-Mazur (vol. 21, 2002).

Lecturer Fried published "Getting Compensation for Child Care Workers on the Policy Agenda in Massachusetts: An In-Depth Look at Advocacy Efforts," Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2002, as well as "Innovations in Teaching: Using Theater as a Tool to Teach Gender Theory," Sociologists for Women in Society (summer, 2002). He also presented a paper entitled "Gender and Workplace Flexibility: Controlling Time and Place" at the "Persons, Places and Processes" Conference sponsored by the Sloan Foundation and Business and Professional Women Foundation (San Francisco, February 2002), as well as "Gender and Workplace Flexibility," presented at the Eastern Sociological Society (Boston, February 2002). She also spoke to the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning on "Increasing Child Care Worker Compensation: An Examination of Frames and Strategies." Lecturer Fried is currently conducting a study of wages and working conditions of prekindergarten teachers in Georgia sponsored by the National Center for the Child Care Workforce.

Professor Haslanger published "Racial Geographies" in Families by Law: An Adoption Reader, Naomi Cahn and Joan Hollinger, eds. (New York: New York University Press), in press; "Oppressions: Racial and Other" in Racism, Philosophy and Mind, Michael Levine and Tamas Pataki, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press), in press; and "Topics in Feminism" (with Nancy Tuana), in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (spring 2003 edition), Edward N. Zalta, ed., feminism-topics/. She presented a paper on "Social Construction: Who? What? Where? How?" at the University of New Hampshire, December 2002, as well as at Harvard University, November 2002. Professor Haslanger talked on "Oppressions: Racial and Other" at the New York Society for Women in Philosophy, October 2002, and at the University of Glasgow, August 2002. She presented a paper on "Intersectionality: Racism, Class, and Gender" and served as roundtable facilitator for the Conference on Racism and Philosophy, Baruch College, March 2003. She also talked on "Assisted Procreation: Rights and Responsibilities: A Reply to Mary Lyndon Shanley" as part of the MIT Politics and Technology of Motherhood Lecture Series, November 2002. Professor Haslanger served on the following women's studies-related committees: the Campus Committee on Race Relations, 2002–present and the SHASS Gender Equity Committee, 2002–present.

Marlene Mannoff served as web editor of WSSLINKS (, a web site sponsored by the WS Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. It provides a comprehensive listing of links to WS material in roughly 15 disciplines. She published the essay, "Tools for Feminist and WS Scholars in Literature: Issues and Problems," in Bibliography in Literature, Folklore, Language and Linguistics: Essays on the Status of the Field, David William Foster and James R. Kelly, eds. (Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland 2003).

Professor Ruth Perry published "Sleeping with Mr. Collins" in The Jane Austen Phenomenon: Remaking the Past at the Millennium, James Thompson and Suzzanne Pucci, eds. For the PMLA Approaches to Teaching EMMA, she wrote "Sexual Politics in Emma" and "Jane Austen, Slavery, and British Imperialism," and for the PMLA Approaches to Teaching CLARISSA, she wrote "Anthropological Approaches to Clarissa." Professor Perry published "Home Economics: The Representation of Poverty in Eighteenth-Century Fiction" in Blackwell's Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, Paula Backscheider and Catherine Ingrassia, eds., as well as an essay entitled "Mary Astell and the Enlightenment" in Feminism and the Enlightement, Barbara Taylor, ed. (Cambridge University Press). This past year, Professor Perry lectured on the "Changing Definitions of the Family in England" (Ascona, Switzerland, September 2002) and on "Feminism and the Enlightenment" (NEASECS, CUNY Graduate Center, NY, October 2002).

Professor Resnick published "Gender Differences in Career Progress and Satisfaction in an Academic Medical Center" in Clinical Journal of Women's Health vol. 2, no. 3, Sept. 2002, pp. 95–104. She was the invited lecturer at the MIT Hillel Women's Connection (January 28, 2003), where she spoke on "Why No One Expected the Spanish Inquisition, but They Should Have." Professor Resnick served as chair and organizer of the International Symposium on Women and Higher Education at the International Institute in Madrid, Spain (June 2003) and spoke at the dinner and Annual Meeting of the Association of MIT Alumnae (6/5/03) on the topic of "Katherine Dexter McCormick Revisited."

Professor Susan Slyomovics was a 2002 elected fellow at the American Folklore Society, received a 2002–2003 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and served as a 2002–2003 Radcliffe Institute/Bunting fellow. Her topic was "Torture, Testimony, and Truth: The Performance of Human Rights in Morocco."

Professor Wood commented on a panel at the Berkshire conference on "Domesticating the Great Fatherland War: Soviet Women during and after World War II." She also wrote three encyclopedia articles this year in the field of Russian Women's History: "Inessa Armand," "Nadezhda Krupskaya," and "Zhenotdel," in theEncyclopedia of Russian History (MacMillan, forthcoming).

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Affirmative Action Goals and Successes

The Women's Studies Program remains committed to affirmative action in all that we do. Our only hire this year was Emily Meghan Morrow Howe, our coordinator. We made a concerted effort to look closely at candidates who were underrepresented minorities. Two of the seven candidates we interviewed were URMs.

In our programming we have also paid close attention to diversity. We cosponsored a Transgender film festival and a panel on Lesbian Artificial Insemination. In our curriculum, we have been offering the following subjects: SP.574J Contemporary US Women of Color (Professor Lee); SP.575JWriting about Race (Lecturer Faery); SP.640J The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender in the US (Abha Sur); and SP.405J The Harem and the Veil (Lecturer Stacey Holden, Boston University).

Future Plans

Professor Wood will serve as the director through AY2006. She is interested in working to widen faculty participation in the program across the Institute and to strengthen the sense of intellectual community within WS on campus. The program will continue to pay special attention to the international comparative study of gender and to the roles of women in science and technology as areas particularly appropriate to WS at MIT.

Elizabeth A. Wood
Program Director
Associate Professor of History

More information about the Program in Women's Studies can be found on the web at


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