MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


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 Foreign Languages and Literatures (hereinafter referred to as ‘FL&L'). During academic year 1998—99, the Women's Studies Steering Committee consisted of Professor Isabelle de Courtivron (FL&L), Assistant Professor Thomas DeFrantz (Theater Arts), Associate Professor Sally Haslanger (Philosophy), Professor Jean Jackson(Anthropology), Professor Henry Jenkins(Literature and Film & Media Studies), Professor Evelyn Fox Keller(STS), Women's Studies Research Librarian Marlene Manoff(Humanities Library), Coordinator Michèle Oshima, (Women's Studies), Professor Ruth Perry(Literature), Professor Resnick (Chair), Professor Susan Slyomovics (Anthropology), Assistant Professor J. Emma Teng (FL&L), and Associate Professor Elizabeth Wood(History). The Curriculum Committee consisted of Assistant Professor Aixa Cintrón (Department of Urban Studies and Planning), Professor Haslanger, Associate Professor Diana Henderson (Literature), Assistant Professor Lora Wildenthal (History), and Professor Wood (Chair). The Programming Committee consists of Assistant Professor Brenda Cotto-Escalera (Theater Arts), Professor Jenkins, Professor Slyomovics and Professor Teng, (Chair). 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 crosslisted subjects from cooperative departments. Students may concentrate, minor and petition for a major departure in Women's Studies. The Program in Women's Studies offered twenty-five subjects during the academic year 1998—99, with approximately 300 students enrolled. Professor Resnick conducted an independent study with four students. Women's Studies had two majors this year. Instructor James Cain and Assistant Professor Justine Cassell advised one student on her Women's Studies thesis research. Professors Jackson and Resnick advised one student on her Women's Studies thesis research. In addition, Professor Woods was the representative for the program to the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies (GCWS). This year, the GCWS cosponsored three graduate level courses, in which three MIT graduate student enrolled.

The Graduate Women's Brown Bag Lunch Series featured: "Creation Ethics: The Moral Status of Early Fetuses and the Ethics of Abortion" (Elizabeth Harman/Philosophy), a screening and discussion of Shirts by Pia Lindman/Advanced Visual Studies), and "Brothels in Thessaloniki, Greece" (Garyfyllia Katsavounidou/Architecture).

The series of science fiction readings by Pat Cadigan, Lois McMasters Bujold and Melissa Scott, was cosponsored by the Media-In-Transition Project, Film & Media Studies, and LSC.

Women's Studies promoted the following events in collaboration with the McMillan-Stewart Lecture on Women in the Developing World: "Palestine: Women Between Patriarchy and New State Formation." Islah Jad, founding member and currently Chair, Women's Studies Program, Birzeit University, Ramallah, Palestine; and the multimedia presentation "Blessed Be He Who Did Not Make Me A Woman." Horit Herman-Peled, Pollack Art College (Kalisher Art School) and the Art Department of Talpiyot College, both in Tel Aviv, and at the Art Institute, Oranim College, in Kiryat Tivon.

The "Gender Roles in Japan Today" student panel (Clare Lee, Andrew Sparks, Sachiko Hirosue and Teresa Algoso) moderated by Miriam Murase, a graduate student in Political Science, was cosponsored by the MIT Japan Program.

Women's Studies cosponsored the inaugural Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies series "Living in Two Languages" featuring readings and lectures by "Me/Mise: shoring up an identity in two languages" (Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill), "Writing a life/Escribir una vida" (Esmeralda Santiago), and "Memory and the new-born: the maternal imagination in diaspora" (Shirley Geok-Lin Lim/UCSB Chair of Women's Studies).

"Lifting Women's Voices: Participatory Research and the case of the Roofless Women's Action Research Mobilization" (Marie Kennedy/UMass Boston) was cosponsored by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in conjunction with our subjects SP401 "Introduction to Women's Studies," SP452 "Feminist Practice in Work and Community," and SP 471 "Gender, Work and Public Policy."

The following series of events: "Out in the Academy" panel featuring Professor DeFrantz, Anne Fleche and Joni Seager and moderated by Brenda Cotto-Escalera; a screening of Fire; and the talk "Lesbianism and the Indian Psyche" (Manju Jaidka/Panjab University), were cosponsored by the LBGT Issues Group, the Committee on Race Relations, Film and Media Studies and LSC.

"Exploring Gender and Leadership: Community Organizing Among South Asian Americans" (Madhulika Khandelwal/UMass Boston) and "Multiculturalism v. Feminism: Configuring Race, Gender and Violence in the Law" (Leti Volpp/American University Law School) were cosponsored by Political Science.


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.

Professor Perry published the following articles: "Incest as the Meaning of the Gothic Novel," in The Eighteenth Century Theory and Interpretation 39 (Fall 98): 261—278; and "Good Girls and Fallen Women: Representations of Prostitutes in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction" in Narrating Transgression: Representations of the Criminal in Early Modern England eds. Rosamaria Loretelli and Roberto De Romanis (Peter Lang, 1999), 91—101. Professor Henderson was granted tenure. She published "Rewriting Family Ties: Woolf's Renaissance Romance," Virginia Woolf: Reading the Renaissance, ed. Sally Greene (Columbus: Ohio State Press, May 1999). Instructor Cain participated on a roundtable discussion on the topic of "Applications of Queer Theory to Medievalist Scholarship" at the annual Medieval Institute Conference in Kalamazoo Michigan. He presented "Getting Lai'd: Activating the Lesbian Erotic in Marie de France's Lai de Guildeluc et Gualadun" at the Queer Middle Ages Conference, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York in November of 1998. Professor Cynthia Woolf did research for her Willa Cather biography under a Guggenheim award. Professor de Courtivron wrote the article "Women of a Certain Age" for Sites: the Journal of Contemporary French Studies, which she guest edited the special issue (January 2000) on women. Professor DeFrantz directed and choreographed "Pure Polyesther," an original musical at The Theatre Offensive (Boston, MA). He authored several entries in The International Dictionary of Modern Dance, Taryn: Benbow-Pfalzgraf, editor, St. James Press, 1998; The Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures; George E. Haggerty, editor; Garland Publishing, Inc., 1999; and the latest edition of American National Biography; Oxford University Press, 1999. He was the subject of an Artist Profile on WGBH "Greater Boston Arts," as Director of "Pure PolyEsther" and an Expert Interview on BBC World Radio Program "Alvin Ailey."

Professor Slyomovics served on seven boards, including the editorial board of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. She was the co-editor of a book in press (Pennsylvania) titled Gendering Culture and Politics in the Middle East, which contains two chapters she authored. Professor Slyomovics gave five invited talks on Arab-Islamic women, political exile, photography, storytelling, and architecture. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and a grant from the American Institute of Maghrib Studies for research in Morocco this coming year. Professor Haslanger published a review of Judith Butler's Bodies That Matter (NY: Routledge, 1994) for International Studies in Philosophy. Professor Resnick completed four more interviews for the Margaret MacVicar AMITA Oral History Professor. She is the president of the Board of Directors for The International Institute in Spain, an educational entity committed to promoting equality for women. Professor Teng had the following publications: "An Island of Women: Gender and Ethnicity in Qing Travel Writing about Taiwan." The International History Review, Vol. 20.2 (June 1998). She was a panelist on "Feminism's Race Problem" in the Women and Public Policy Series at Harvard's Asia Center. Professor Teng was the chair and discussant on the "Gender in Taiwan Studies" panel at the Fifth Annual Taiwan Studies Conference held at Columbia University. She presented the paper, "New Paradigms for Interpreting Asian American Women's Literature" at Boston College. Additionally, she served on the advisory committee for the Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future.

Professor Keller presented "Women in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine" at Princeton, and the Keynote address, "Co-Education for the 21st Century," at Wheaton College. Associate Professor Evelynn Hammonds gave public talks: "The Logic of Difference: Race and Gender and 19th Century Surgery (University of Warwick, England); "The Logic of Difference: Race, Science and Medicine in the U.S." (Center for the Study of Women, UCLA); and "Historical Views on Race and Medicine (UCLA School of Public Health). Professor Hammonds continued work as a Project Consultant on "Women and Scientific Literacy: Building Two-Way Streets" funded by NSF and the American Association of Colleges. In 1998 Professor Sherry Turkle was appointed co-chair of the American Association of University Women's Commission on Technology, Gender, and Teacher Education.

Christine Walley has been appointed to assistant professor of Anthropology. Instructor James Cain has been appointed to assistant professor of Literature.

Women's Studies will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary this fall. Professor Resnick will continue as director through June 30, 2000.

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

Margery Resnick

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99