MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


Women's Studies redresses the invisibility of women and gender in the construction of knowledge and reminds us that women as well as men have experiences and perceptions to contribute to 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 the work of teams of men and women.


The program is co-directed by Philip Khoury, Professor of History, and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, and the Women's Studies Steering Committee. During academic year 1995-96, the Women's Studies Steering Committee consists of Professor Isabelle de Courtivron (FL&L), Assistant Professor Evelynn Hammonds (STS), Associate Professor Diana Henderson (Literature), Professor Jean Jackson (Anthropology), Associate Professor Henry Jenkins (Literature and Film & Media Studies), Professor Evelyn Fox Keller (STS), Lecturer Helen Elaine Lee (Writing and Humanistic Studies), Women's Studies Research Librarian Marlene Manoff (Humanities Library), Professor Ruth Perry (Literature), Associate Professor Margery Resnick (FL&L), and Assistant Professor Elizabeth Wood (History). Under the leadership of Professor Resnick, a subset of this core group serve on the Curriculum Committee which reviews and vets the syllabi and teaching the subjects we offer.


The newly-established Geneviève McMillan-Reba Stewart Chair in the Study of Women in the Developing World is historic not only for MIT, but for the field of women's studies. Candidates for this chair are known for their scholarship on the study of women and gender in the Middle East and/or North Africa and for their familiarity with comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of women and gender. It is expected that the holder of the new chair will teach subjects in his or her specific department and in the MIT Women's Studies Program. Professor Isabelle de Courtivron (FL&L), Professor Michael Fischer (STS), Professor Jean Jackson (Anthropology), and Dean Khoury (Professor of History) are serving on the search committee for the McMillan-Stewart Chair in the Study of Women in the Developing World.


The Program in Women's Studies offers an undergraduate curriculum through core classes and crosslisting subjects with cooperative departments. Students may concentrate, minor and petition for a major departure in Women's Studies. The Program in Women's Studies offered nineteen subjects during the academic year 1995-96, with 290 students enrolled. The program continues to be an active contributing member of the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies (GCWS), a pioneering effort by faculty at six degree-granting institutions in the Boston area and Radcliffe College to advance women's studies scholarship in a series of team-taught interdisciplinary graduate seminars. This year, the program co-sponsored three graduate level courses through the GCWS, in which one MIT student enrolled.


Women's Studies is pleased to announce that Marwan Kazimi `96 is the first recipient of the joint writing prize between The Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and the Program in Women's Studies: The Louis Kampf Writing Prize in Women's and Gender Studies. This prize honors both Professor Emeritus Louis Kampf's contributions to Women's Studies at MIT and rewards high quality undergraduate writing in women's and gender studies. The Prize is sponsored by Women's Studies and included among the annual writing prizes given by the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. The Prize is judged by faculty from Writing and Humanistic Studies and Women's Studies. Kazimi's winning submission was on Gender and Depression.



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

Within the field of Women's Studies, Professor Perry (Literature, on leave) delivered the following lectures: "Good Girls and Fallen Women: Representations of Prostitutes in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction" (Conference on Representations of Criminality in the Early Modern Period, University of Salerno, Italy, Oct., 1995), "Feminist Pedagogy" (Feminist Theory Colloquium Series, Northeastern University, Nov., 1995), "What (Younger) Feminist Scholars Want" American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Austin, Texas, March, 1996), "Am I My Sister's Keeper? Intellectual Siblings in Eighteenth-Century England" Conference on Education des Femmes, University of Lille, France, April, 1996, and "Reflections on Interdisciplinarity in the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies at Radcliffe" (Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, June, 1996). She chaired the conference session, "Prostitution: Cultural Meanings and Material Conditions" (Modern Language Association, Chicago, Illinois, December, 1995. She reviewed Companions Without Vows: Relationships Among Eighteenth-Century Women by Betty Rizzo in Eighteenth-Century Studies. She published the paper "I Brake for Feminists" in Concerns, publication of the Women's Caucus of the MLA, and in Transformations (Spring, 1996). "Feminist Pedagogy" is being published by Northeastern Working Papers. "Good Girls and Fallen Women: Representations of Prostitutes in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction" is being published in a volume forthcoming from the University of Salerno on Representations of Criminality in Early English Fiction. "Building a Feminist Institution: An Informal History of the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies" will be in the NWSA Journal (publication of the National Women's Studies Association. She has reviewed Catherine Gallagher's Nobody's Story, Edward Copeland's Women Writing About Money, and Claudia Johnson's Equivocal Beings, for Modern Language Quarterly., and T.G.A. Nelson's Children, Parents, and the Rise of the Novel, for Eighteenth-Century Fiction. Women's Studies is pleased to have a new addition in Literature, Professor Henderson. She published Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender and Performance (Urbana, University of Illinois Press). She published the following article: "A Woman Killed with Kindness and Domesticity, False or True: A Response to Lisa Hopkins" in Connotations 5.1, 1995/96. In addition, she gave a talk, "Rend(er)ing Gender: Mutilated Men in The Duchess of Malfi and The Changeling" for the meeting of the Group for Early Modern Culture Studies in Dallas, Texas, Oct., 1995 and at a special session of the MLA, Chicago, Illinois, Dec., 1995, and participated in a workshop on feminist pedagogy for the World Shakespeare Conference in Los Angeles, California, April, 1996.

Professor Fox Keller (STS) had a 10th Anniversary Edition of Reflections on Gender and Science (Yale Press). She co-edited Feminism and Science (Oxford University Press ) with Helen Longino. Both Professors Keller and Sherry Turkle (STS) talked about Gender and Cyberspace for the Virtue & Virtuality: Gender, Law and Cyberspace conference held in April by the MIT Program in Women's Studies. Professor Turkle gave a talk "Gender and the Net" at Cyber-Identity Conference held by Princeton in March. Professor Hammonds (STS) co-edited Gender and Scientific Authority (University of Chicago Press) with Barbara Laslett, Sally Kohlstedt, and Helen Longino, and contributed "When the Margin is the Center: Black Feminism(s) and `Difference'," to the forthcoming Transitions, Environments, Translations (Routledge). She is the Chair of the Committee on Women for the History of Science Society. Additionally Professor Hammonds attended the UN 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, Aug. 29-Sep. 8, 1996 under the auspices of the Ford Foundation. Professor Hammonds oversees the Black Women in the Academy database project which is housed in the Women's Studies headquarters. Professor Jackson (Anthropology) has a chapter, "Coping with the Dilemmas of Affinity and Female Sexuality: Male Rebirth in the Central Northwest Amazon" in the forthcoming Denying Biology: Essays on Pseudo-Procreation. She gave a talk, "Gender in t he Northwest Amazon: Research Dilemmas" at Tufts in March.

Professor Resnick (FL&L) remains active in the Executive Committee of the International Institute in Spain, where she annually helps coordinate their international conference on Spanish women. This year she moderated the colloquium held in June, 1995. She wrote a chapter on Carme Riera for the book Proyecciones de la Novela (Ediciones del Norte). In addition, she gave a talk on Women's Equality Day at the Veteran's Administration for the Women's Labor Bureau, US Government. Professor de Courtivron (FL&L) co-presented "Mosaicos de la Vida Feminina: La Memoria y Ficcion" with Carme Riera at the June, 1996 colloquium of the International Institute in Spain. She reviewed Einstein's Wife in the December, 1995 issue of Women's Review of Books. She presented "Memoir of a Bilingual Daughter" at Colby College, October, 1995.

Mary Brown Parlee, Visiting Professor of Humanities, led a discussion group on gender summer through fall 1995. This dialogue grew out of an IAP course, Gender Outlaw, which explored issues of transgendered and transsexual identity.

Philosophy Ph.D. candidate Jennifer Noonan is leading an ongoing feminist philosophy discussion group, which started this spring. This intellectual forum has discussed such diverse topics as Objectification, Feminist Metaphysics, and Political Liberalism: Justice and Gender.

The program houses several UROPs. Professor Resnick continues to oversee the Margaret MacVicar/AMITA Oral History Project. The women who have attended MIT are a fascinating group of individuals whose unique stories form an integral part of MIT's history as an institution. Most of these graduates went on in their fields and the record of their endeavors provides new insights into the complicated questions surrounding gender and science and technology. in this project, undergraduate students are paired with female MIT graduates in similar fields. The students complete research on the interviewee and they are taught interviewing techniques. After the interview the transcript is edited by the student and the alumna for permanent deposit in the MIT archives. These archives are available to the public and are of interest to all of those interested in the evolution of MIT as an institution and the question of gender in scientific and technological fields. Additionally, a UROP under Professor Fox Keller's supervision, completed a web page on women in developmental biology which is linked to the MIT Women's Studies web page.

This year, Women's Studies had three visiting scholars: Petra Lucht, a doctoral student from the University of Hamburg in Germany (gender and physics), Dr. Poonam Pillai, faculty member of Ohio State University (feminist postcolonial theory), and Dr. Rodica Mihaila, professor of the University of Bucharest and founder of American Studies (contemporary American women's poetry).

Our publication, Women's Studies Around Boston, continues to be sent quarterly to our mailing list of over 2,500 individuals. This publication provides vital links between the Program at MIT and women's studies scholars at other institutions and in the community.

Women's Studies sponsored a comedy night fundraiser for Sojourner. This event featured a Latina and two Black comediennes and served to reach out to the feminist community and assist the feminist newspaper which was started at MIT 20 years ago.


As of July 1, 1996, Ruth Perry, Professor of Literature and Founder of the Program in Women's Studies will assume the directorship for two years. Dean Khoury will reestablish the Women's Studies Advisory Committee comprised of faculty from across the Institute.

Philip S. Khoury

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96