MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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 Professor Ruth Perry, Professor of Literature, and Founder of MIT Program in Women's Studies. During academic year 1997-98, the Women's Studies Steering Committee consists of Assistant Professor Brenda Cotto-Escalera (Theater Arts), Professor Isabelle de Courtivron (FL&L), Associate Professor Evelynn Hammonds(STS), 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 Perry(Literature), Associate Professor Margery Resnick(FL&L), Professor Susan Slyomovics (Anthropology), and Associate Professor Elizabeth Wood(History).


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-one subjects during the academic year 1997-98, with approximately 300 students enrolled. Professor Resnick conducted an independent study with one student and Professor Hammonds advised one student on her Women's Studies Pre-thesis research. In addition, Professor Hammonds was the representative for the program to 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 GCWS cosponsored four graduate level courses, in which one MIT graduate student enrolled.


Rita Leung `99 was the third recipient of the joint writing prize offered jointly by 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 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.



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 served the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies as a panelist on interdisciplinary teaching panel for a Chinese delegation, and on the search committee for the coordinator. She gave the following lectures: "Current Issues in the World of Women's Studies" at University of Nevada, Las Vegas; "Mary Astell: A Seventeenth-Century Philosopher" at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; "Everything You Wanted to Know About Women's Studies, But Were Afraid to Ask" for MIT Matrons, and "Incest as the Meaning of the Gothic" for the University of Oregon, Eugene and for Arizona State University. In addition, she reviewed The Works of Aphra Behn, ed. Janet Todd for The Women's Review of Books. She published the following articles: "Women in Families: The Great Disinheritance" for Women in the Eighteenth Century, "Incest as the Meaning of the Gothic" for The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation and "Austen and Empire" for Monstruous Dreams of Reason: Writing the Body, Self, and Other in the Enlightenment, ed. Laura J. Rosenthal and Mita Choudhury. During the fall, Associate Professor Diana Henderson was an Honorary Visiting Fellow in The Gender in Writing and Performance Research Group at The Open University (United Kingdom). She published the following articles: "A Shrew for the Times." Shakespeare: The Movie. Popularizing the plays on film, TV, and video. Eds. Lynda E. Boose and Richard Burt. New York: Routledge, 1997: 148-168; "Female Power and the Devaluation of Renaissance Love Lyrics." Dwelling in Possibility: Women Poets and Critics on Poetry. "Reading Women's Writing" series. Eds. Johanna Prins and Maeera Shreiber. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997: 38-59; "The Theater and Domestic Culture." A New History of Early English Drama. Eds. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997: 173-194, and review: Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender by Shirley Nelson Garner and Madelon Sprengnether, eds. Renaissance Quarterly 50.3 (Autumn 1997): 13-15. The following articles were written and are in press or under press review: "Shakespeare's Reading: Reading Vernacular Literature" (in collaboration with James Siemon). A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Basil Blackwell. Forthcoming 1998-99; "Enter Queen Isabel: The Difference It Makes." Solicited for inclusion in the "Critical Study" section of William Shakespeare's Henry V. Ed. John Russell Brown. New York: Signet Classic. Forthcoming 1998-99; "Teaching Sidney's Astrophil and Stella." Solicited for inclusion in Approaches to Teaching Shorter Elizabethan Poetry. Eds. Patrick Cheney and Anne Lake Prescott. Under review by MLA Publications. Tentative publication date, 1999; "Rewriting Family Ties: Woolf's Renaissance Romance." Accepted by the editor for inclusion in Virginia Woolf: Reading the Renaissance. Ed. Sally Greene. Forthcoming from Ohio State Press, spring 1999; and "Rend(er)ing Bodies in The Changeling and The Piano." Accepted by the editors for inclusion in Disturbing Bodies: Corporeal Knowledge and Reading Practices in Early Modern Culture. Eds. Lowell Gallagher and Arthur L. Little, Jr. Volume under consideration by Routledge. She delivered the following conference papers and invited lectures: "The Return of the Shrew: Why Now? Why Not? But How?" for the Honors College of Stonehill College, MA, April 1, 1998; "The Disappearing Queen: Looking for Isabel in Henry V." -Seminar paper, circulated and discussed at SCAENA: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries in Performance, St. John's College, Cambridge University, U.K., August 13-15, 1997; "Re-viewing Queen Isabel in Henry V." -Seminar on Writing about Performances. Shakespeare Association of America, Washington, D.C., March 27-30, 1997; "The Disappearing Queen: Looking for Isabel in Henry V." -The Gender in Writing and Performance Research Group, The Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K., September 8, 1997. -Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, Banff, Alberta, Canada. May 15-18, 1997. She served on the Organizing Committee for the Annual Conference of the BBC/Open University Research Group on Gender and Performance at the University of London, July 1998 and was a Seminar Organizer and Leader for "Shakespeare on Film: Issues of Gender" at the Shakespeare Association of America in Cleveland, Ohio, March 1998.

Professor Keller published the following article: "Developmental Biology as a Feminist Cause?" in Osiris. Professor Turkle published the following articles: "Cyborg Babies and Cy-Dough Plasm: Ideas about Life in the Culture of Simulation" forthcoming in Cyborg Babies: From Technosex to TechnoTots, and "Tinysex and Gender Trouble" in Feminisms. Additionally, she was named one of Boston's Top Wired Women by Boston Webgrrls. Professor Hammonds did the following reviews: Donna Haraway's Modest Witness in the Journal of the History of Biology, and Susan Smith's Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Black Women's Health Activism in American, 1890-1950 in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. She has the following piece forthcoming: "Whither black Women's Studies, An Interview with Beverly Guy-Sheftall" in Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Professor Hammonds was a consultant to the Women and Scientific Literacy Project: Building Two-Way Streets for the NSF and American Association of Colleges and Universities. She gave the following talks: the Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics: "Women and AIDS: Reconstructing A History of An Epidemic;" "When the Margin is the Center: Black Feminism(s) and Difference" for the conference on "Feminism's Race Question;" and for the NWSA annual conference plenary: "Women, Race and Science." Professor Cotto-Escalera directed another staging of her play Motherlands in December at the Boston Center for the Arts. Additionally she served on the panel "Theater by Queer Women of Color" for the OutWrite Conference held in February. Associate Professor Anne McCants has the article "The Not-So-Merry Widows of Amsterdam, 1740-1782" forthcoming in the Journal of Family History. Professor Wood published the following review: Barbara Alpern Engel and Anastasia Posadskaya-Vanderbeck, eds. A Revolution of Their Own: Voices of Women in Soviet History for Slavic Review. She gave the lecture "Gender and Gerontocracy: the Brezhnev Years" at Boston University. Professor de Courtivron has been working as a guest editor of a special edition of SITES: the journal of 20th Century/Contemporary Women Writers. She has published book reviews in The New York Times and The Women's Review of Books. Professor Resnick published the article "The Destruction of the Myth of Spanish Homogeneity: Marginal Characters in Carme Riera's Palabra de Mujer" in Proyecciones Sobre la Novela. She arranged a talk by the Cuban author Excilia Saldaña, and gave the MIT Technology Day talk "Roofwalkers: MIT Women and the American Dream." Professor Slymovics is co-editing a volume of essays on gender and the Middle East with Suad Joseph, entitled: Gender and Transformation in the Middle East. She is on the advisory board of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory.

Women's Studies has been quite fortunate with numerous faculty appointments relevant to our program. Susan Slyomovics has been appointed professor of Anthropology and first chair holder of the McMillan-Stewart Chair on the study of women in the developing world. Sally Haslanger has been appointed to associate professor with tenure of Philosophy. Lecturer J. Emma Teng has been appointed to assistant professor of FL&L. Lora Wildenthal has been appointed to assistant professor of History.


Professor Perry will go on sabbatical after this year. Associate Professor Resnick will become the director on July 1, 1998 for a two-year period.

Ruth Perry

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98