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Dean Philip S. Khoury of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences has announced the appointment of Elizabeth Wood, associate professor of history, as director of the program in Women's Studies, effective in January. Diana Henderson, associate professor of literature, is serving as acting director this fall while Wood is on research leave. They succeed Margery Resnick, associate professor of Spanish, who served as director from July 1998 until June 2001.
"Elizabeth Wood is one of the leading scholars in the United States of gender and culture in the former Soviet Union and a talented classroom teacher," Khoury said. "She is completely dedicated to strengthening women's studies at MIT, and I predict she will take the program to the next level." He added that "her appointment as director marks the passing of the baton between the first and second generations of MIT faculty with a deep commitment to the study of women and gender."
Wood commented, "The Program in Women's Studies is one of the most exciting places at the Institute. Where else can feminist scholars of every possible discipline come together to share ideas? Where else can we talk about everything from adoption to genetics, from Aphra Behn in the 17th century to poverty in America in the 20th?"
The Women's Studies Program at MIT was among the first in the country, and the scholarly work of earlier directors such as Ruth Perry, Isabelle de Courtivron and Evelyn Fox Keller helped create the field. The new leadership plans to build on that strong foundation by providing resources and encouraging an understanding of gender studies among a wider audience across the Institute.
Wood and Henderson said they are particularly interested in linking the insights of gender analysis with the study of science and technology, adding that they will continue to focus on the international dimensions of the field that built up under Resnick's leadership. In addition, they plan to build on the momentum of the Women's Studies Reading Group that started two years ago, and will add new programming open to students and staff. There will be more events devoted to sharing the research going on at the Institute.
Wood came to the MIT history faculty as an instructor in 1990 and received tenure in 1998. She is the author of "The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia" (Indiana University Press, 1997) and is now completing a book titled "Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Revolutionary Russia." She received the B.A. in 1990 from Harvard University and the M.A. (1986) and Ph.D. (1991) from the University of Michigan. She has published articles on prostitution, trade union organizing of women, and gender and citizenship.
Henderson came to MIT in 1995 as an assistant professor from Middlebury College, where she helped to build women's studies and launch a women's center. She was awarded tenure in 1999. She holds the B.A. (1979) from College of William and Mary and the M.A. (1980) and Ph.D. (1989) from Columbia University. A noted scholar and teacher of the Renaissance era with a focus on gender and media, her publications include the book "Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender and Performance." She is completing a book titled "Uneasy Collaborations: Transforming Shakespeare Across Time and Media."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 12, 2001.